Regional Oral History Office
The Bancroft Library
University of California
CALIFORNIA DEMOCRATS' GOLDEN ERA, 1958-1966
From Grassroots Politics
to the California
Franchise Tax Board,
With an Introduction by
Interviews Conducted by
Copyright (CM 1987 by The Regents of the University of California
This manuscript is made available for research
purposes. No part of the manuscript may be quoted for
publication without the written permission of the
Director of The Bancroft Library of the University of
Requests for permission to quote for publication
should be addressed to the Regional Oral History Office,
486 Library, University of California, Berkeley 94720,
and should include identification of the specific
passages to be quoted, anticipated use of the passages,
and identification of the user.
It is recommended that this oral history be cited
as follows :
To cite the volume: California Democrats'
Golden Era, 1958-1966, an oral history
conducted in 1986, Regional Oral History
Office, The Bancroft Library, University
of California, Berkeley, 1987.
To cite individual interview: Cyr
Copertini, "Campaign Housekeeping, 1940-
1965," an oral history conducted 1986 by
Gabrielle Morris, in California
Democrats' Golden Era, 1958-1966,
Regional Oral History Office, The
Bancroft Library, University of
California, Berkeley, 1987.
Copy No .
One of the primary charges of the Regional Oral History Office is the
documentation of California government and political history. Since 1969,
the Office has conducted extensive projects focused on the administrations
of Governors Earl Warren, Goodwin Knight, Edmund G. Brown, Sr. , and Ronald
Reagan, covering the period 1932-1974.
In addition to elected and appointed officials in the executive,
legislative, and judicial branches of government, the Office has been
especially interested in collecting data on the Democratic and Republican
parties and election campaigns, as well as the work of citizens active in
formal party work and advocacy of crucial public issues. Documentation of
the history of the Democratic party includes thoughtful oral histories with
such Democratic leaders of the 1950s and 1960s as Don Bradley, Edmund G. "Pat"
Brown, Elizabeth Smith Gatov, Roger Kent, and Thomas Lynch, among others.*
Many of these interviews mention the devoted and expert roles of Cyr Copertini
and Martin Huff in significant activities.
In addition to close political cooperation, personal friendships
developed among many of those who worked together in those years. This
volume of interviews is a tribute to those friendships. After the death of
Don Bradley in 1981, friends and associates presented a gift in his memory to
the Regional Oral History Office for continuing work on the history of the
California Democratic party. After careful consideration, Cyr Copertini and
Martin Huff were invited to be interviewed because of unique perspectives
on day-to-day operations and finances of the state central committee during
the era when Bradley managed key Democratic campaigns.
The Office takes this opportunity to thank the many friends of Don
Bradley who made these interviews possible. They are listed on the following
Gabrielle Morris, Interviewer-Editor
Regional Oral History Office
Regional Oral History Office
486 The Bancroft Library
University of California, Berkeley
* Don Bradley, Managing Democratic Campaigns, 1954-1966, 1982
Edmund G. "Pat" Brown, Sr., Years of Growth, 1939-1966: Law Enforcement,
Politics, and the Governor's Office, 1982
Elizabeth Smith Gatov, Grassroots Party Organizer to Treasurer of the United
Roger Kent, Building the Democratic Party in California, 1954-1966, 1981.
Thomas Lynch, A Career in Politics and the Attorney General's Office, 1982.
The above are publications of the Regional Oral History Office, University
of California, Berkeley, available in the reading room of The Bancroft
Library. See also series lists for Government History Documentation Project.
DONORS TO THE DON L. BRADLEY MEMORIAL FUND
Stanley Arnold, Susanville
Jerry E. Berg, San Francisco
Jean Black, San Francisco
Richard C. Blum and Dianne Feinstein, San Francisco
Roger Boas, San Francisco
Chuck Bosley, Shepherds town, West Virginia
James Browne , Sacramento
Winslow and Donna Christian, San Francisco
Cyr and Lloyd Copertini, San Francisco
Dick and Jean Day, Santa Rosa
Betty Dempsey, Castro Valley
Ann Eliaser, San Francisco
Cathy E. Fuller, Helena, Montana
Frederick P. Furth, San Francisco
John W. Hall, San Francisco
Elinor Heller, Atherton
Joseph Houghteling, San Francisco
Anne and Martin Huff, Sacramento
Andrea I. Jepson, San Francisco
Howard and Nancy Jewel, Oakland
Alice C. Kent, Kentfield
Marshall Kilduff, San Francisco
Francis McCarty, San Francisco
Harold I. McGrath, Santa Rosa
Hon. George Miller, Member of Congress
Harold Morgan, San Rafael
Richard Nevins , Arcadia
Robert F. Peckham, San Francisco
Louise Ringwalt, Sam Clemente
Thelma Shelley, San Francisco
Nancy Sloss, Washington, D.C.
Stuart Spencer, Irvine
Jack and Vickie Tomlinson, San Francisco
Charles S. Warn, Santa Monica
Marianne Weigel, Kensington
Robert and Evelyn Williams, Oakland
Sally Laidlaw Williams, Oakland
Charles and Annie Winner, Los Angeles
It was a genuine grass-roots effort that engaged the prolific talents
of Martin Huff and Cyr Copertini. An effort that lifted the Democratic
party in California from the political basement to the penthouse of
representation and administration in Sacramento and Washington, D.C.
Some have joyously labeled it the Golden Age of California Democrats.
In those days, because of the numbers of people involved in the
party's efforts to win elections, two particular linchpins were required
to keep the operation on track and functioning.
One was a financial manager who could answer the persistent question,
"What did you do with the MONEY?" to satisfy the cynical and assiduous
readers of financial reports. That was Martin, whom anyone, on sight,
would want to have as executor of an estate, or to be the person to find
one unconscious after an accident.
If he had lived two hundred years earlier, Martin very likely
would have been a delegate to the Constitutional Convention where he
would have contributed enormously to the resolution of conflicts, the major
task of those who gathered in Philadelphia that summer.
The other was the gyroscopic impresario who kept happy and motivated
the curious collection of individuals who labored in political campaigns
twenty and thirty years ago; they thought of themselves as "professional
volunteers . "
In those days, television consumed a very small part of the campaign
budget; the bulk was spent on organization, which meant a network of
people and their support apparatus; headquarters, telephones, mailings,
printing, etc .
People-managing, therefore, with careful attention to morale and
fragile egos, was critically important.
California Democrats, during the period of their political escalation,
owed a vast amount of their success to Martin Huff and Cyr Copertini.
Their skills contributed directly to the generation of trust among the
participants and the resulting effusion of effort by volunteers and
contributors who helped nominate the candidates the party offered to the
voters and then went on to provide the structure of support needed to
win the election in the fall.
Martin Huff, the handily elected auditor-controller of the city of
Oakland, was drafted to the position of party treasurer, a position
especially sensitive at the time of the quarterly meetings of the state
central committee when a statement of the party finances was obligatory.
Martin, whose later career as Executive Officer of the state
Franchise Tax Board provided an appropriate field for his talents, was
able, before the computer age, to create a financial report that awed
even those of us already familiar with the contents. A copy was placed
on every chair in the meeting hall. Many pages long, cranked out on a
mimeograph machine which was the state of the art in those days, it was
so scrupulously detailed that by the time those intending to nit-pick
had found the item of their interest, the report had long since been
After a few of those documents had been examined at consecutive
meetings, the cleanup squad found most of the financial reports still
sitting on the chairs, squashed, unopened and unread.
Such was the power of the trusted treasurer. And such was the
stature he provided to the whole administration of the party. He shared
his integrity with all of us.
Cyr Copertini, the disarming ringmistress of the political
menagerie, was adroit at creating an upbeat environment whatever the
facts might imply. Her usual speaking tone had a musical lilt
bordering on laughter that warmed the stoniest who heard it. She had
the gift of motivating even the vaguest of volunteers who drifted into
the office, of making them feel that without their inspired help the
campaign was a lost cause. Yet quietly, without seeming to supervise,
she knew precisely what was going on in every facet of the operation
and kept a stream of communication flowing in both directions.
To candidates and their staffs, Cyr was the morale officer and
the foundation of reliable information. No matter what her spot on
the non-existent organization chart might look like, or what her
equally non-existent job description might have been, Cyr was IN CHARGE.
Those years of building the California Democratic party and finally
winning a record number of elections in the 1950s and '60s could not
have happened without Cyr ' s genius in what are today called "communication
skills" and Martin's manner of scrubbed-clean honesty. They built
confidence, trust, and abiding affection into the party structure, and
were integral members of the "212 Gang," the informal, hardworking
group that coalesced around the leadership of Roger Kent at party
headquarters in San Francisco.
The firm relationships evolved by these two unpretentious people
could not be equated in money. Their talent in human understanding
made the system of those days work like a well-lubricated machine;
I use the phrase with deep respect because I believe harmony under
pressure is a rare condition in this contentious world. Their dedicated
work, while painting with a small brush, was on a very large canvas.
Their effectiveness changed the polity of California for the last
thirty years, perhaps even longer.
Former Democratic National
Commit teem ember
Tues., October 6, 1981
•t. . '• ' ,...! • - ' ^
By Scow Blakt?
Donald L. Bradley, the
wily political strategist re
sponsible for the victories of
three San Francisco mayor*
and the successes of numer
ous Democratic Party causes,
died Friday. Be was C.
A resident of Bolinas, he died
at the University of California
Medical Center at San Francisco
after several weeks in the hospital.
An irascible and witty man
with a graveUy voice tuned by
endless cigarets, Mr. Bradley head
ed the successful campaigns of
mayors Jack Shelley in 1063.
George Moscone in 1975 and DUnne
Feinstein io 1979.
In a career that spanned four
decades, Mr. Bradley ran more than
130 campaigns, some losers and
many winners. He was most closely
'associated with mainstream and
liberal Democrats, and his candi
dates reflected that. He worked to
elect Harry Truman, Adlai Steven
son and Lyndon Johnson.
He wa/one of the key figures
in three of Edmund (Pat) Brown's
campaigns for governor — his 1958
landslide over the late Senator
William F Knowland. his 1962
victory for re-election against Rich
ard Nixon and his bitter defeat by
Ronald Reagan in 1966,
. He also ran several glamourless
campaigns — such as those involv
ing sewer bond issues — with' gusto.
When his personal beliefs were
involved, politics became a crusade,
and a win — such as the successful
1978 drive to defeat the statewide
Briggs anti-gay initiative — some
thing akin to moral victory. .,-••
"Unlike many in his profession.
be was always committed to his
candidate or cause." recalled Corey
Buscr.. WDO wa? press secretary to
toe late Mavor Moscone
DONALD L BRADLEY.
Mr. Bradley — a large Ban
with a face creased like an BB-
iroDed shirt and heavy jowls that
testified to his delight in cooking
and entertaining — built a reputa
tion early on as an astute behind-
the-scenes operator in the world of
He first ran a campaign in 1948
when he was Napa County Demo
cratic chairman and headed up the
Democrats' push for Harry Truman
But his move into the main
stream of California political life —
and the engineering of the Demo
cratic takeover in Sacramento that
endures to this day — came with
the victorious senatorial campaign
of Dr. Stephen P. Teak of West
Point (Calaveras County) in 1953.,
Teale won by 75 votes, and he went
on to become a powerful figure in
the state Senate.
Mr! Bradley was Joined in the
Teak race and in subsequent canv
paigns by Pierre Salinger, who later
became press secretary to Presi
dent John F. Kennedy. Mr. Bradley
went on to manage the capture of a
number of mountain county seats,
uhich gradually shifted the bal
ance of power out t>f Republican
As much as Mr Bradley cared
* about politics, he also enjoyed the
good life: travel and sports, good
food and fiae spirits.
V For r vhlk to the 16OH, Mr.
Bradley nad a part Interest in a
Boiinas bar named Smiley V 1t
proved so popular that an ice cream
establishment across the strest re
named itself ScowleyV
.: And once after losing a partial*;
larly dose race, Bradley was beard
to growl. The people have spokes
.*- the bums.*
Mayor Feinstein, in Manila
heading a trade delegation, said,
yesterday, "Very few people knew;
and understood politics and the
electorate with the acumen, sensi
tivity and skill of Don Bradley. Don*
was a politician's politician with
solid organization skills, vast and;
tested experience in acomples area
and a tremendous network of
Those fortunate enough tor
have knows him found a leader
they could respect, a -wily and
tough advisor and a man who cared
deeply about the overall quality of,
our .political life," the mayor said.
"My heartfelt condolences go
out to his family and loved ones." ••
Mr. Bradley is survived by his
sons, Vernon of San Francisco and
David of Fairfax, and he daughter.-
Marsha Gifford of Corte Maden
His former wife. Florence, lives in.'
, ' No services arejflanned. > • •
. From left, City Manager Wayne Thompson, Huff
n Houlihan, Council of Social Planning official
Brown discuss Franchise Tax Board work
, — 1
Sj — ^
Regional Oral History Office University of California
The Bancroft Library Berkeley, California
The Don L. Bradley Memorial Project
CAMPAIGN HOUSEKEEPING, 1940-1965
An Interview Conducted by
Copyright c 1987 by The Regents of the University of California
TABLE OF CONTENTS — Cyr Copertini
BRIEF BIOGRAPHY i
INTERVIEW HISTORY ±±
VITAL DETAILS OF DEMOCRATIC CAMPAIGNS: 1942-1972 1
The Forties and Fifties: Local and National Politics
Building a Volunteer Base 9
Women and Politics in the Fifties 13
The Triumphant Era of Pat Brown 16
The Turbulent Sixties 18
Conclusion: Constant Ideas and Major Changes 25
TAPE GUIDE 29
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Occupation Pepf STcfl<^ U) / /yd 0 u> D/Sjflvz' J-ttvi <? LVI f
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Brisk and petite, Cyr Copertini was a pleasure to interview. It
took a while to find time for an interview in her busy life as scheduling
secretary to San Francisco Mayor Dianne Feinstein. On April 8, 1986,
Feinstein had a meeting elsewhere, and Copertini perched on a chair in
the darkly ornate mayor's office during lunch hour and breezed through
forty years of nearly continuous Democratic party activity. "I took eight
months off in 1950 to have a baby," she smiles.
Her first job, right out of high school in 1942, was as secretary
to William Malone, chief northern California Democrat of the 1940s.
Before the tape recorder was turned on, Copertini smiled and commented
that if she had known how important Malone was, she would have paid
more attention to how he worked. In a few brief remarks, she brings to
life successful small fundraising for Roosevelt's 1944 campaign, Malone 's
contacts with national figures, insights on San Francisco politics. She
continues with Roger Kent's work in strengthening the party statewide
in the 1950s and '60s. Sometimes on the party payroll, sometimes on a
candidate's, sometimes as a volunteer, Copertini managed through the
years the mechanics essential to keeping political activities moving.
Particularly interesting is her account of the 212 Gang, the energetic,
able loyalists who worked together at 212 Sutter Street in San Francisco,
while it was headquarters for both the Democratic State Central Committee
and the California Democratic Council, the celebrated grassroots organization
founded in 1954 on enthusiasm for presidential candidate Adlai Stevenson.
Senator Clair Engle's office was there too, for a while, providing
additional opportunity for feedback and encouragement between the groups.
The transcript of the interview was lightly edited at the Regional
Oral History Office and sent to Copertini for review. She apologized
for unavoidable delays in sending back the manuscript for final processing.
When it returned, she had retyped many pages so that her careful revisions
would be readable.
22 April 1987
Regional Oral History Office
486 The Bancroft Library
University of California at Berkeley
VITAL DETAILS OF DEMOCRATIC CAMPAIGNS: 1942-1972
[Interview 1: April 8, 1986] #//
The Forties and Fifties: Local and National Politics
Copertini: — That was my first job, my first job anywhere [with William
Malone, then chairman of the Democratic State Central Committee.]
I was just out of high school, and it was also an ethnic hire,
which is interesting, because Bill Malone asked the parish
priest to send him a "nice little Irish girl" and I was a "nice
little Irish girl." [laughs]
At that time — the first war year — the primaries were still
in late August — August 25th in 1942. They changed them later
so that the soldiers' ballots could get back in time for
accountability. So, they were moved to June. I went to work
kind of as a summer job and then stayed on forever.
Morris: Forever, was it — ?
Copertini: That was Earl Warren and Governor Culbert Olson, it was Olson's
try for a second term. It was his campaign for reelection,
which he didn't make.
Morris: Did Bill Malone think he was going to make it?
////This symbol indicates that a tape or a segment of a tape has
begun or ended. For a guide to the tapes see page 29.
Oh, I doubt that, I think that Mr. Malone was forever the
realist. And, you know, you do everything that there is to
be done, but I don't think he would think so.
Did you grow up in a political family?
brothers — ?
Was your father, your
Copertini: Not terribly active, but terribly conscious. We were a
laboring family from out in the Mission, and I can remember
photographs, pictures, hanging on the wall, with campaign
buttons stuck in them. And I got my first library card the day
that Roosevelt was elected. My father, who was Catholic, used
to pray — because he hadn't finished his education — he used to
pray, "keep Roosevelt in office until my girls get through
Morris: Oh, that's wonderful.
Copertini: It was that kind of belief in Roosevelt and the party.
Morris: Yes. What did Mr. Malone have you doing?
Copertini: There was a campaign headquarters, but I actually worked for him.
I worked out of his law office as a receptionist. I handled his
appointments, and then whatever came in of a political nature.
For instance, in the only Roosevelt campaign that I was ever in,
Cyril Magnin as treasurer was a name on an ad in all the papers
asking for one and five dollar contributions. God, they came in
in droves, and they came to us on a mailing address, requiring
counting and thank you letters. It was pretty routine stuff.
Morris: And your responsibility was also keeping track of contributions
as they came in?
Copertini: To that extent, on this special "to the small contributor"
appeal. There were other finance committees, but this thing
was a little bit different, in that it asked for small
contributions from people who probably had never contributed
to a campaign before.
Morris: Yes. Did Mr. Malone — he's sort of a mythical creature, having
been involved in Democratic politics for so long — did he have
the kind of interest in building the party that Roger Kent,
later on, did?
Copertini: It was completely different. He certainly had no interest in
keeping the party alive and well and in winning elections. At
the time I came in, Malone was jocularly known as "The
Pendergast west of the Rockies." His power was significant.
He had been state central committee chair and county chair for
a number of years by the time I arrived. But that summer, in
the primary, he was deposed in his bid for reelection as state
chair by George R. Reilly [member, State Board of Equalization,
1939-1982], who was already on the Board of Equalization. So
while Reilly became the party chair, Malone stayed on as
county chair, which he did for a number of years. As an
interesting by-product of that, in the following year of '43,
he involved himself in the San Francisco mayoral elections, at
which there was a truly behind-the-scenes effort at assisting
Roger Lapham. George Reilly was- one of the contenders, and
Chester McPhee was another, and — I think there were five that
were running — well, Rossi was up for reelection.
Morris: Why was it a behind-the-scenes effort?
Copertini: Because, first of all, Lapham was a Republican, and secondly,
the party did not get involved as such in mayoral elections
because they are non-partisan. Angelo Rossi had been in for
sixteen years, and I don't remember who his opposition was along
the way. But, in between time, Malone, as chairman — most of
this relates to county chairman — had built neighborhood
organizations here. To back up, I remember him coming to the
door when I was a little kid, and he was just a guy out doing
precinct work; he had the same name as my doctor, and I was
terrified, because I thought I was going to get a shot [laughing],
It was just some guy who wanted to get a vote for somebody and
doing it the hard way.
Later, when others wanted to take over the local party, he
would be critized for being a Montgomery Street chairman, but
he started, as so many who criticized him started, doing his
precinct work. By the time I came in he had risen in the ranks
and worked mostly from his law offices. There was a headquarters
that was open the year around, and it was professionally staffed,
but not with volunteers to the extent that happened in the
party a few years later. There was a resurgence when Roger Kent
came in and visited the headquarters daily but at this time it
was a more contained, more businessman-like effort. There
weren't the hordes of volunteers that you saw come along later
under Roger and the CDC [California Democratic Councils].
Right. Then, it sounds like before Roger, it was mostly
San Francisco based. There wasn't much of a statewide
It was there, but one of the complaints about Malone was that
he didn't like to travel. There were things going on out there,
and certainly there was a lot of exchange between us and
Los Angeles, where Sheridan Downey had come from. He was then
U.S. Senator. Ellis Patterson was lieutenant governor; he
had come from down there. The structure of the party is such
that there's a north and a south chairman. One year a
northerner is elected as statewide chair and there's a southern
chairman, and the next year the southerner is your statewide,
and there's a northern vice. So, I'm sure that the southerners
had the counterpart of what Malone had put together here, which
was really kind of assembly district organizations.
Most of his efforts were put on assembly districts? On
That's in San Francisco. But he dealt on a much different
level too. He had good rapport rfith Senator Sheridan Downey,
and there was lots of interaction with Washington. There
was Ed Flynn, who was the national chair there, followed by
Bob Hannegan, and he was quite close to both of those, and others
before them. You know, his Washington —
His Irish mafia?
They talk about the Kennedys [laughing], this was just
Well, they're people from various areas and that's important
to have somebody you can talk to, I guess.
Well, yes. That's right, they were people in power. He also had
great friendly and political relations with other nationalities.
The Chows, Jack and Albert Chow, or the Chinese Six Companies
here in San Francisco; they were very, very close. And Black
friends, labor friends, and certainly Jewish friends.
Then you continued to work for Bill Malone, until when?
did you go over to the Democratic committee itself?
I got married in '47, and didn't do anything until Truman was
running in '48. I just didn't work at all. The Truman campaign
was such a poor operation; money wasn't plentiful and they
were desperate for help, so they called and asked if I would
come back. Then it just flew from there; I never wanted to go
home again. I had an eight months' hiatus when my child was
born, but it's been pretty much all the time.
When he was small — and you asked, you know, how you could
do so many things — I actually was not an employee of the state
central committee for their office, so much as I was hired
by them for campaigns and projects. The office was ongoing,
and from time to time I worked out of there, or was employed
by them for fundraising, or something. But I moved around a
lot while under their wing.
Yes. You were on the staff.
No; contractual — from time to time. There were three people
who were permanently on staff: a secretary, a director, and
an assistant, who was a field representative. And then there
were those of us who came and went. As I say, sometimes I
was on state central committee payroll and worked out of the
office, sometimes on CDC, sometimes on a campaign payroll. More
often it would happen that either the director or the assistant
would be sent someplace and then I would go with that person.
Not so much that as campaigns and fundraising. Largely
campaigns. And then, when that was over I'd come home again to
the state central committee office and wait to be deployed.
You sort of set up a headquarters for the campaigns?
That's right, yes.
Tell me about the first one of those you remember,
in Roger's era?
Well, let's see. The first one I remember was under George
Miller [Jr.]. The [Estes] Kefauver delegation had won, and
there was a change of command. The Malone people were out but
someone I had known — Don Bradley — was involved and important
to the new effort. He had been a county chair during the
Truman campaign, was in the winning campaign of Jack Shelley
and worked for Jack in his office and I knew him from there.
Copertini: Then George Miller, who became his good friend and was
chair when the Kefauver delegation won, hired him as
executive director. Earlier in 1952, I had been working
in the campaign of a candidate, Clinton D. McKinnon, who,
under crossfiling, lost in the primaries to Knowland. But
the permanent state headquarters was only a block away and I
spent a lot of time at the state committee when there was an
attempt to put together an unpledged delegation to take up
the slack when Truman pulled out of the race so I saw more of
Don. The effort didn't work and, as we've said, the delegation
pledged to Kefauver won and Bradley went to work for the
chair. He hired me for interim things, fundraising, conventions,
campaigns — he and then Roger Kent. When Don opened a head
quarters I would go with him.
Morris: Great. This is traveling around the state?
Copertini: A little, but not so much. Don, at times, took up residency
in southern California, and would leave us behind here in
San Francisco. A statewide campaign doesn't do well unless
the main bases are here in San Francisco and in Los Angeles.
You can't, for instance, have the northern headquarters in
San Mateo or have it in Oakland. It just doesn't work.
Morris: And if it's a statewide campaign, you need to have an office
both in Los Angeles and in San Francisco?
Morris: Does that get to be kind of complicated sometimes, if the
people in charge of those two offices aren't on the same
Copertini: It never did, because although Bradley would be sent down to
Los Angeles, obviously, anybody who ran the operation here
would be somebody that would be compatible with him.
Morris: Were there the same kinds of Don Bradley people in southern
California, real political campaign experts?
Copertini: Well, there was only one Bradley. There really was. But,
obviously, there were competent people who worked down there,
many of whom were his proteges. For instance Joe Cerrell, who,
you know, is still in, and well respected, in the campaign
business. He was a young Democrat when Bradley found him
in a '57 campaign. Let's see, there's Lee, now Cerrell 's wife —
Morris: His wife would campaign?
Copertini: Yes, right. She's worked for the party since 1958.
Morris: Somehow I think of Mr. Cerrell running special campaigns, and
that makes me think of Dick Tuck. When did he appear on the
Copertini: [laughs] Don Bradley had lived in Santa Barbara. He knew
Tuck from his Santa Barbara days. When did he appear? He
was heartily entrenched in '56, so it was, maybe, '54 or '55
when Don went to Santa Barbara on the Senate campaign.
In '56 we went to Chicago for Stevenson. Dick was
along and that was the caper where Dick did the fake
convention badges that Life magazine eventually wrote about —
because it was more of an honor to have one of those two
dozen fake badges we put together, than to have the real ones,
Morris: Oh, my goodness.
Copertini: He's a funny man and clever. The badges were so unsophisticated.'
All we did was to go out and get some paper and a printer
to do some italic lettering on it. I got a fine-point
pen and a bottle of red ink and drew a red border. I was in
charge of drawing the union labels, and they got bigger and
bigger, until they looked like beetles [laughs]. And we took
them out and plasticized them, because we didn't have enough
credentials and they passed, clumsy as they were.
Morris: This was for Stevenson?
Copertini: That was for Stevenson, yes.
Morris: This was because Stevenson was having trouble getting his
delegates on the convention floor?
Copertini: Only because of the size of the California delegation when
you attempted to accommodate uncredentialed staff and visitors.
There are always more people than you have tickets. So we made
these phony badges. The news crews picked it up and wrote
about it. As I say, it finally ended up in Life magazine.
Humor was good and even the convention chair appeared on the
podium wearing one of these collector's items. That was
Tuck's first recognized effort!
Morris: Had Dick been a student at Santa Barbara?
Copertini: I don't know, but he had been a Coro intern although he was a
few years away from that.
Morris: Right. That's interesting. Was the Coro Foundation a
good place to look for bright new talent?* Or was it just
Copertini: Some wonderful people have come from Coro — notably Libby
Smith (Gatov) the U.S. Treasurer under Kennedy, and Dianne
Feinstein, present mayor of San Francisco, just for starters.
My initial feeling about it when I'd had interns before
was that they always came in to find out what you were doing
wrong rather than to learn. In fairness, they didn't have
a great deal of time with us in campaigns, so they didn't handle
anything with a lot of teeth in it.
There was a major change in 1954, though, when we got
two people who really became family. One was Tom Bendorf and
the other, Mary Farrell. Bendorf was given tasks with great
responsibility and stayed on to volunteer even after his
stint with us, through Coro, was finished. He went on to
Washington where he worked for Senator Clair Engle and has
held other positions of note in and around government.
Mary Farrell suffered from what was the woman's dilemma
of those years. While very much interested and wanting to be
there she complained she was never given anything to do but
typing. It was one of the earliest complaints I'd heard on
that score and quite justified. Most women just assumed that
the men were going to get the more interesting assignments, such
as field work, and the higher pay and that they would do office
Morris: And this was in the '50s?
Copertini: This was in 1954. That year they came on as interns in the
campaign of a man named Richard Graves, who was running
*San Francisco public affairs internship program.
Morris: Of course.*
Copertini: I just found some of his campaign matchbooks. They said,
"We dig Graves. He's the most." Can you believe it?
Morris: Was that the kind of a campaign that, within the central
committee, there was the thought that he really had a chance of
winning, or was it more of a place holding kind of a thing?
I've heard the suggestion it wasn't a good year for Democrats,
so Pat Brown didn't want to run.
Copertini: There was hardly anybody who [laughs] wanted to run, and Graves,
until just a few months before he was asked to do it, was a
Republican. But you hype yourself up, and you get so immersed
in it that you don't really ever think you're going to lose.
You know, you get three good letters in a row, and you think,
hey, we've got it made.
He was running against Goodwin Knight, and there were some
unfavorable things in Knight's record that were thought would
be to his detriment and give Graves his chance. You have to
remember I was enthusiatic and starry-eyed. These realists —
they didn't confide in me if they thought that he was going
Building a Volunteer Base
Morris: Could we talk a little bit about using volunteers? When did
you begin to be aware that there were more people around to
do fundraising, and letter stuffing, and —
Copertini: Well, again, under the Malone regime, the attitude was more —
and I don't mean to denigrate it, it's just the way that
things were then — you know, keep this place neat, don't let
all these people in. You sent letters out to a letter shop and
*See Richard Graves, Theoretician, Advocate, and Candidate in
California State Government, Regional Oral History Office,
University of California, Berkeley, 1973.
Copertini: got them back all tidy and ready to go. The volunteer movement
started rolling under Miller, I guess, and it came full bloom
with what we learned when CDC was organized and when Roger
[Kent] became state party chairman. Don was executive
secretary of the party then, and the thing that he drummed
into us when we were there, over, and over, and over again,
was inclusion; inclusion. And God forbid if you turned
somebody away who wanted to help, or if you didn't have
something for them to do.
We used to have a standing joke about the box of three-
by-five file cards. If somebody came in and said, "I want to
help," well you went out and took the three-by-five cards
in the back room and brought them out and said, "Please
alphabetize these," if you didn't have anything else for them
to do. It's a joke you can't always tell, because people don't
like to think that, maybe, their time hasn't been well used.
But on the other hand, if somebody comes in, and there really
isn't anything at that moment, you don't want them to go,
you want to say, "Sit down. Here, this needs doing right
away, I'm glad you arrived. You're needed." So that's what
we'd do in an emergency, but we didn't do it much, because
usually there was plenty to do.
Morris: Once you get into a campaign. And people don't turn up in
between campaigns, is that right?
Copertini: Well, there was hardly ever an in between, because with the
development of the CDC, when one thing was over, something else
was starting. For instance, while people from the state
central committee were away at campaign headquarters, there
was also an effort called "Dollars for Democrats," that came
out in '60, that was run out of the permanent state and CDC
headquarters. That required bodies. There were the CDC
conventions that came up annually: Democratic state central
committee conventions and meetings and fundraising, so there
was always enough to do. We started — I think around '55, '56,
to put out a monthly newsletter, and that newsletter was
like 1,500. And we had, I mean, zero equipment. We had a
mimeograph machine, and we had dupli-stickers that we did by
hand and postage that we applied by hand, and we licked and
stuffed and sealed and sorted.
And these went out monthly. You no sooner finished one
than you were in the throes of doing it again. There were
two staffers: the regular staff secretary for the state
central committee, and the CDC secretary. So help was always
needed and with this inclusion policy —
Morris: And this was when they were sharing office space, 212 Sutter
Morris: How did that work out?
Copertini: There was an earlier address when we were newly formed, and it
was so successful we both got too big for it. It was six-
something Market. It worked out just fine. It worked out just
fine. It was very necessary that we did share office space,
because I think if the CDC had gone off on its own, the story
would have been quite different. Without any contact, or with
just casual contact with the state central committee, there
could have been cross purposes or even animosities. You know,
struggle over turf and all. In this way each was consulted and
knew exactly what the other was doing, each was involved with
what the other was doing. When it came convention time, or
delegate selection time, each worked cooperatively for the very
best of the party. And Roger was as warm and friendly and
interested in the CDC as he was in the state central committee.
Morris: It sounds like he may have encouraged the founding of CDC.
Copertini: Well, he was one. It happened under George Miller, and Alan
Cranston was monumentally important to it.
Morris: Yes, he's often spoken of as the founder in order to further
his own political career.
Copertini: Whatever the reason, it was a very good move for the party.
Copertini: I remember the times we still had cross-filing and, you know,
we were losing elections right and left. So this helped in that
you could identify candidates and say, hey, this is the endorsed
Democrat, stay with it. See, you couldn't put the party
designation on in the primaries. So that gave a' way, an
endorsement of the California Democratic Council, to validate
the candidacy as a Democrat.
And then, after Stevenson lost in '52, there was such a
continuation of the outpouring of interest from everyone,
particularly young people who had found out a little bit about
campaigning, cared about who was going to run the country, and
Copertini: never went home again. The older, pre-war generation had
been more quiet during the Eisenhower years. But now, these
young people just — God, they were like bees coming out of a
hive, they were wonderful.
You know, Jack Kennedy is credited with inspiring this
activity of volunteers and youth in politics, but it wasn't
really he. It started with Stevenson. It was ready for
Kennedy to make use of when his time came, but if we were
just to get started then, we might not have been ready. Without
this earlier awakening of interest we might not have been able
to make the effort that we did to elect a president in 1960.
Morris: I'm trying to get a picture of what it was like. The people
turned out for Stevenson meetings, or they came to work on his
campaign in numbers that you hadn't had before?
Copertini: Those things are true. They not only came to but helped on the
rallies that we gave, the public things, the street events.
Even raised money to help candidates. But more than that,
they joined the clubs, so that they could have some continuing
voice in politics, necessary because the state central committee—
you're aware that the appointment process was not structured
so that everybody might get in.
Morris: You have to be appointed.
Copertini: You have to be appointed by a legislator, yes. But in the clubs,
anybody could get in, and they did. The clubs were very, very
Morris: You said the newsletter was a 1,500 mailing.
Copertini: That was the state central committee newsletter. The CDC
probably had much the same thing. There was always some kind
of a mailing, something going on. If it was a quiet time, then
you quick put together a fundraiser, because, well, you always
needed money too.
Morris: And the fundraisers that you worked on, were these the ones to
get a lot of people giving at a lower price, or were these the
$500 dinner kinds of things?
Copertini: Well, it could be both. In those days, it wasn't $500; I don't
think we ever got above $100, and that was very daring. There
were both, and I worked on both and they were traditional and
Copertini: in San Francisco always. Others were considered — like more
rallies and you tried to have events that people of every
financial level could participate in.
We did try to do a traditional Jefferson- Jackson dinner in
the fairgrounds in San Mateo, and it just didn't work. You'd
be surprised how attached people are to the old formulas. You
can have a variety of fundraisers to this day, but nothing
succeeds like the events in one of five city hotels where
everybody gets dressed up and is seen, and seeing. Really.
Morris: That's interesting. Even though it's the same people — ?
Copertini: Even though it's the same people. They don't recognize it as
official unless it goes this route. And now, of course, they've
gotten smaller and more expensive and all, but the mayor still
does it, and we're having one in June. When it comes to the
raising masses of money, (and it's also a show of strength) the
reception or dinner formula is tried and true. But other
things that have been tried — theatre parties, auctions, any
number of things — it doesn't work.
Morris: Isn't that interesting. Even though there have come to be some
very talented women who specialize just in doing fundraisers.
Copertini: And mostly what they do is this traditional format. In the city
here, the oldest is Madlyn Day, who taught me everything I know
about it. She worked for Senator Downey and had an office
across the street from Malone, and, you know, I had contact with
her. Later on she, too, worked for the party, then specialized
in fundraising and is still doing it. She's been doing it since
1940, or earlier.
Morris: And isn't Anne Eliaser — ?
Copertini: Anne Eliaser, who was National Commit teewoman. I don't think
she takes politics so much any more. But her firm does its share
with fundraising dinners, and the formula is true; it just abides,
Women and Politics in the Fifties
Morris: How about women? You said when you started, it didn't even
occur to you to do anything but make the coffee and type.
Copertini: Well, as a paid employee. Certainly there were women's
committees and women who shared leadership for the party.
Elected party officials Elinor Heller (national committeewoman)
and Julia Porter, women's chair of the Democratic state central
committee, are two who were active when I came in, and later, of
course, Libby Smith. A candidate was Helen Gahagan Douglas
who ran for Senate in 1950.
Women were always recognized and the election laws were
set up so that the legislator who had appointments to the
state central committee had to make them 50-50, resulting in
lots of men walking around with their wives' proxies!
Morris: Did you work on the Helen Gahagan Douglas campaign?
Copertini: Not directly. I was in the state central committee head
quarters at that time. Don was, but I wasn't. That was
the year I'd had a baby, so I didn't work in a primary but
came back in the fall.
Morris: That was your year off.
Copertini: Yes, eight months. I came back, I think, in August.
Morris: Oh, that's wonderful. Did you bring the baby with you?
Copertini: At times [laughs], at times.
Morris: That's marvelous. Okay, then, my question about Helen
Gahagan Douglas' reception as a woman and how the central
committee felt about the red smear kinds of things. You
wouldn't have heard about — ?
Copertini: Well, we were outraged about the red smear, and they liked
her. They certainly liked her as a person but there were
many, even other women, who were critical of her running,
feeling that a woman candidate was not electable. Persons
who would never want a woman — any woman. And the traditional
party in San Francisco, under Bill Malone's leadership,
had been attracted to Manchester Boddy rather than Douglas.
However, Douglas was nominated and a very good effort was
made to elect her. However, it was with newer, emerging
people — younger, more liberal. Again, Bradley ran that
campaign. It was right after he'd worked for Jack Shelley's
election to Congress.
Morris: Right. Okay, going back in time; the 212 Gang. Were you
pretty much the same people over the years, or were new
Copertini: Yes, pretty much the same nucleus. There was Roger for the
state central committee, there was Don, there was a wonderful
man named Van Dempsey, a field organizer. There was Martin
Huff, who was treasurer of everything and crossed lines to
be enormously involved with both DSCC and CDC. There were
two women who served, successively, as secretary for the
state committee during these years, and a CDC secretary.
Then, of course, those of us who were hired for campaigns,
fundraisers and other special events. ##
Morris: Did they by and large have the' same ideas in the group, or
was it just that you were all in touch with each other,
saying, what can we do next, or where is the need that
we can do something about?
Copertini: We never had to stop and think "what will we do next."
There was always something. A campaign ran into a fundraiser,
which ran into a convention or conference leading to a
campaign, and so on. We were all pretty compatible in our
thinking and in our preferences of candidates and issues.
We were, or we wouldn't have been there. If you didn't
agree philosophically with what was being done, you couldn't
stand being there. Working was enormous fun, but it also
took a great deal of your time, your energy, and your emotion.
Morris: Where had he and Don gotten interested in this idea of
inclusion, including more and more people in the — ?
Copertini: I think Roger, as a candidate — he ran for Congress a couple
of times — sometimes felt shut out by the old order. Don
had learned his politics as a very young man on the waterfront
where numbers as a show of strength was important. If there
was any lesson learned there it was that everyone was needed;
you don't lose anybody if you can help it. And he saw it
worked. Then during the time that he was formulating
opinions about the work of the state central committee
and accepting a leadership role himself, I think he was
told by a lot of people that the party was a "closed
corporation" — you weren't allowed to be involved. I think
he wanted to make sure that never happened. He recognized
the need and value of manpower but more than that the RIGHT
of people to have a voice in the affairs of their party.
The Triumphant Era of Pat Brown
Morris: Everything seems to have come together about '58 when Pat
Brown was elected and —
Copertini: Oh, yes. It was just a triumphant year.
Morris: And then, did Pat take an active part in what was going
on at the central committee?
Copertini: Not in the day-to-day workings; elected officials don't.
But certainly in the negotiations and -decisions. He was
the highest elected Democratic official as attorney
general and ran and became governor. That year there had
been three or four-good sized campaigns; three of them
housed under one roof, a building up the street from 212.
Brown was down on Market in a building they called "The
Gore" and together with him were Engle for Senator, Mosk
for Attorney General and Bert Betts for Treasurer.
These took a hefty amount of staff and you draw from
every place where you find interest. Help came from the
CDC; people who left their jobs, took leaves of absence
to go to work on these campaigns.
Morris: Really I
Copertini: Yes, absolutely.
Morris: How can you talk somebody into leaving their job for nine
months to a year?
Copertini: You didn't have to. They were keen to do it. Those times
were so exciting, so hopeful. A case in point is a man
named Tom Saunders who, over in Kensington, was an early
CDC club president. Professionally he was an insurance
safety consultant with a lot of interest in politics. He
was able to take time out to go to work on the Brown
campaign and then go back to his insurance company. I don't
know why they allowed this, but I guess he was a very
valuable employee. He really wanted that campaign job.
Morris: And he did that several times, over the years?
Copertini: In a way. After Brown won, Saunders accepted a job with the
state.* Then Brown, the second time around, asked him to
run his campaign in the north, an adjunct to Don who had
the statewide role but functioned out of the south. So Tom
took a leave, I believe, or quit outright to work on the
Ultimately he went back, after the election, into a much
Morris: Into his insurance company?
Copertini: No, no. In state government. Brown had given him an
appointment after his first campaign. When he left to do
the second one he returned to the state in an elevated
Morris: Then Brown lost him as a campaign worker.
Copertini: Well, yes. But that doesn't mean he didn't have free time
to participate in other ways. In '66 he was still with
the state but he would take vacation and other accrued time
for special field trips or projects or whatever. And he was
around the headquarters a great deal evenings and weekends.
You stacked up all your vacation and comp time and used
it for the campaign. I want to tell you, if you offered
such people a trip to Tahiti — anybody who was in this
generation of the 212 Gang — they would much, much rather
have spent the time on the campaign. Absolutely. I used
to get up in a morning and think how lucky I was. I'd say,
"You know, I'd go if I never earned a cent." And sometimes
in the early days that was the case. I was paid in postage
stamps or whatever was left at the end of the campaign,
if it wasn't a good one, meaning prosperous. The Clinton
McKinnon campaign is a prime example.
*As a member of the state Industrial Accident Commission
panel in San Francisco in 1963.
The Turbulent Sixties
Morris: Were things beginning to change, about '64, '65?
Copertini: Yes, yes. The attack on Kennedy hit everybody really hard.
In early '63 we were going to a CDC convention and we all
said, "What will we DO next year? Kennedy's going to be
reelected and so is Engle." And six months later Engle
was suffering from a brain tumor and Kennedy was dead!
So that put us into '64.
At the CDC convention that year the crowd voted
handsomely for Cranston, but there were those who felt
that there wasn't any real opposition and they would have
liked to see some other choice. Then Pierre Salinger found
that he could run for Congress, that he didn't need to reside
in the district, so he ran.
And Don and I went with Pierre which, probably, was
not the best thing we could have done, to say the least. We
had both been involved in putting together the delegation
for the National Democratic convention in Atlantic City. So,
of course, taking on Salinger meant we moved from the official
party headquarters and others took on that task. After
Pierre won the primary, Roger Kent, in a great demonstration
of genuine desire to see "the family" be put back together —
because there were residual feelings that win or lose it was
wrong to have supported Salinger — involved Don and me in the
business of bringing California's delegation to the convention.
We were working with a lot of the other people who had
stayed with the state committee and had been with Cranston,
too, so we had to work hard to make an amalgam there.
Further, Don was taken off the Salinger campaign and
put into running Lyndon Johnson's campaign out of the south,
which might have contributed to the defeat of Salinger
because Don was just not able to participate as much as
he was needed.
Again, Tom Saunders got a leave somehow — I don't know,
but all very legal — and ran the Johnson campaign up here.
Morris: By then there's the beginning of the legislative campaign
Copertini: Yes. I think '65 was the year that Si Casady ran as
president of the California Democratic Council and left a
lot of people disenchanted with the result.
Morris: Well, was it Casady himself or was it the anti-Vietnam
concern that caused the trouble?
Copertini: Casady was not too familiar a figure in the north, at
least, and the anti-Vietnam views were certainly part of it.
I wasn't that close to it and I really can't answer, but,
again, it disenchanted a lot of CDC regulars.
Then something else was happening. A lot of the people
who were involved and who were even part of the Roger Kent
years were getting tired at that time. Don't forget that
Roger was chair for over ten years now, and in addition to
the toll that takes he felt our losses keenly. Kennedy
had died; Engle, a good friend, had died; then later that
year we lost Adlai Stevenson, too. It seemed to take some of
the heart out of Roger.
Morris: That must really have been a shock to people from the group.
Copertini: Yes. But Roger stayed on for a while. He gave some thought
to retiring and tried to persuade Bill Orrick to run because
he thought he'd be someone who would be able to mend the
wounds between CDC's Cranston and the Salinger forces. But
Orrick didn't want to run.
Morris: Oh, yes. He'd been doing fundraising for the party.
Copertini: Yes, right. And more than that. He'd been campaign chair
for several campaigns and held other significant roles.
Morris: Well, it's sort of odd. Roger went over to become a chairman
in Pat Brown's reelection campaign in '66, but somehow
that doesn't ring quite right. It sounds like there were
some people who were also trying to ease Roger out gracefully-
Copertini: Oh, no, no. I don't think so. Aside from having had the
party responsibility for so long, he had monumental health
problems. He had emphysema and a very bad and painful hip
problem. And he was tired and missed those we had lost
Morris: He had been at it for ten years.
Copertini: Eleven. He used to leave his law practice and come over
to headquarters almost every day. And he traveled a lot,
and you know, was well met. He was a vital part of any
group he saw, and it wasn't bed at eight o'clock: it was
two, or three in the morning or whatever time he went — if
he went. And he had traveled to Washington a lot.
I think he was ready to quit. But he stayed on to
accomplish all he could accomplish. So he retired. But
then, you know, when your old friend Pat gets you on the
phone and says, "Hey, I need you — " Being chair of the
campaign gave him just the right amount of involvement with
out having responsibility for the entire party.
Morris: Right. Well, you need people you can call on and say "why
did we do what we did?" Who were the people of the 212 Gang
or newcomers — who had that same kind of dedication to
politics and to the good of the Democratic party?
Copertini: There were many — out of the clubs, legislators, fundraisers
and people who made themselves close-in friends of the office,
And our "out of the office" authority — Van Dempsey. He was
the field representative, the second spot in the office,
and he was much beloved.
He had a completely different style from Don, who dealt
mainly with the legislators and people in authority. Van
went from county to county visiting people in small
communities in small numbers over and over and over again.
He was much beloved and thoroughly dedicated and stayed on
until it was necessary for chairman [Robert] Coate to close
the headquarters in 1967 for lack of funds.
That's tough to recover from,
offices for ten years.
If you've had year-round
Yes, well, even before that — even before Roger — there were
year-round headquarters. One in the Sharon Building in the
very early Roosevelt days, graduating to the Balboa Building
under Bill Malone. All in all, to my knowledge there's been
a headquarters for 10 years before 212. Maybe longer.
It had been headquarters, in his office?
Copertini: No, no. It was in another place. It was at 2nd and Market
while Malone was nearby on Montgomery Street. It was in the
Balboa Building, had glass all round so that everyone was
visible and was called "the fishbowl."
Morris: Who was it that got the office open again?
Copertini: In '68 Roger Boas became chair and he opened headquarters.
Morris: Now, had Boas been one of the proteges of Roger and Don?
Copertini: In 1958, in the Engle campaign, there were three notable
volunteers. One of them became a San Francisco supervisor,
Ron Pelosi. Another was Roger Boas who had a deep interest
in seeing that California had a Democratic Senator, and the
third was — Dianne Feinstein!
Morris: Yes, you really got them started.
Copertini: I'd like to take the credit, but they were very much self-
starters. They really weren't very good volunteers
[laughing] — they didn't stay around too much. But Roger
Boas always had this keen interest and he later ran for office
himself. You know, he was a supervisor and then ran for
Congress. So he certainly had a strong feeling for the party
and brought much to it by way of knowledge, experience, and
business sense. He was a friend of Roger's and very friendly
with Don. So he became chair and opened headquarters in the
Morris: That's about the era, too, when you get the big national party
McGovern reforms. All the business about opening up delegate
selection and participation.
Copertini: You kind of lose me there because I did not work for [George]
McGovern. My inclinations were to [Edmund S.] Muskie and I
went to work in '71 as the Northern California campaign
coordinator and then stayed with the campaign until it folded
in '72. Then, after it folded, I didn't want to work for
McGovern and signed on with a local candidate—Ron Pelosi, who
was running against State Senator Milton Marks. I liked Ron,
but an equally compelling reason for doing this is that Marks,
a Republican, held a seat that by every right should have been
Morris: What was the central committee's involvement in, or response
to, the business about changing the delegate selection to the
Copertini: For details, you'll have to go elsewhere. I wasn't a part of
it. But I can't think that it made that much of a difference
in California. We had always been concerned about what we
called a "balanced" delegation.
Morris: Okay, and how has that affected later campaigns?
Copertini: I really don't know except to conclude that there were now
official and maybe slightly more stringent rules for what we
had always sought to achieve in the way of fair representation
on the delegations.
In 1967 the same Tom Saunders I've told you about and I
went to work together in the Joe Alioto mayoral campaign —
a 54-day wonder. After Brown was defeated I'd "retired" and
was volunteering in Jack Shelley's reelection campaign for
mayor. He pulled out and I went to work for Alioto. Tom was
campaign manager. After that, we decided to open our own office.
Morris: Did you?!
Copertini: Yes. We did that for about four years. One of our first
accounts, that was in '68, was the Lyndon Johnson delegation.
Okay, Lyndon Johnson announced in March that there wasn't going
to BE any more Lyndon Johnson. So we hurriedly put together
an uncommitted delegation pledged to Thomas Lynch , who was the
ranking California Democrat as attorney general. That was the
fateful Chicago year and obviously our delegation certainly did
As I mentioned, the procedure had been, at the time we put
together a delegation, always to keep an eye on balancing.
That was the word we used all the time, balance. So many
legislators, so many contributors, so much labor, so many CDC
representatives, so many women, and so many of each of the
minorities. People really sweat putting those delegations
together to try to make all facets of the party feel they had
a stake in it with a truly representative slate.
Morris: How did you start? Did you use your three-by-five cards from
the previous years?
Copertini: Even better. After the CDC clubs started to flourish there
were caucuses called in each of the congressional districts.
Out of that procedure came recommendations for delegates and
alternates. Then the state central committee would get those
recommendations back and, with a selection committee (also
representative), evaluate who had done what that merited him/her
a spot, look at how many at-large delegate spaces you have for
emergencies, and then go to work sifting and refining and
putting together the delegation.
Morris: How much weight do you have to give to, say, the governor or
the senator, if they're a Democrat who says, "I want this guy
on, or I want that guy — ?"
Copertini: Oh, you listen. [laughs] Usually it's not unreasonable,
Morris: Is there fierce competition for those delegate slots?
Copertini: When I was involved, yes.
Morris: And what happens if — presumably — there's another group
somewhere working on another delegation for another
candidate? Do you have any contact with them, or any
Copertini: Not trading. But you would try to persuade those you felt
should be part of what you were doing and who would be an
asset to the delegation to see it your way.
In any event, the balance was operative. And it took
many, many hours of very precise work to get it to be
Morris: And how many of those people usually ended up being able to go
to the convention?
Copertini: Virtually all who were chosen, plus families and children and
whatever. So you were dealing with a horde of people: you were
dealing with six, seven hundred people when you took a California
delegation to a convention. It's true that sometimes the
money was a problem because, no matter where you go, it's
expensive. There were the normal transportation, hotel, living,
.and entertainment expenses plus a $100 delegate fee for
financing the operation — you know, organizational staff,
convention headquarters room, printed materials. But that was
little enough and people who applied managed to make it.
Copertini: I think in later years, just about as I was doing other things,
there were fundraisers to make it possible for people who
didn't have the money to go. This was desirable because a
lot of younger people were now on delegations and simply didn't
have the means .
Morris: Special events to raise money for delegate expenses.
I know you have limited time, could we spend a couple of
minutes on voter registration, if that was something that
you spent a lot of time on, or was important to Roger and Don.
Copertini: It was very important; it was essential. Somebody in the
state central committee would be assigned to organize it and
there would be chairs in each county. Much aid was provided
and close track kept. The voter registration expert in San
Francisco was and is, although he is now "retired" Agar
Jaicks who was for many years chair of the county central
committee and how he did it so well for so long is his story
Morris: I'll remember that.
Copertini: The county central committee were the people who got the
troops for that, largely from CDC club members. And we
managed to find a little money here and there to pay deputy
registrars 15c a name. Most of them put it back into their
club or a favored campaign. Maybe registrars are still getting
something, I don't know.
Morris: It's up to fifty cents a name. You hear that in some cases
candidates who are sending out registration people pay a
dollar or more.
Copertini: Really, we were marvellously organized. Obviously you can't
turn anybody away who wants to register, but you sure knew
where to go where the people you register will be the
people who are likely to vote as you'd wish. There's a whole
science to it. As I say, it was happening around me, but
I never participated directly. It obviously couldn't be
operated from a campaign headquarters.
Morris: That wasn't one of your specialties.
Conclusion: Constant Ideas and Major Changes
Morris: I have a wrap-up question. It has two parts. One is,
whether the ideas from Roger and Don's heyday are still
important, and what kinds of things have been the major
changes in the central committee's activities?
Copertini: I can answer only part of that. I'm so removed from the
operation of either of the official committees now.
As regard what was left from Roger and Don: I think what
they began in the fifties stood the party in good stead and
does still today. They involved PEOPLE rather than relying
on just media. Because you erred on the side of generosity,
of sane liberalism, and the inclusion of as many people and
tolerance of as many ideas as you possibly could. The party
belonged to everybody and if a point of view other that
that of the leadership prevailed, so be it. You worked darn
hard to make sure it didn't, but you went with it. It's
everybody's party. That was the abiding thing and it
characterized the whole era.
Morris: Do you get the feeling that that is less so now than it was
twenty years ago?
Copertini: No, but I think a couple of things have changed. I don't
feel that there is the strong leadership that we had under
Roger. I don't think there is the fundraising capability
that there was on an ongoing basis. The reason we were
able to do the things that were done was because there was an
ongoing war chest. Money was raised constantly. Also people
were able to contribute more freely and more generously. The
contribution laws have changed, with limitations and
restrictions on what you could do. People back then contributed
in different ways — I don't know if I should be saying it, but —
Morris: You can look at the transcript, if you want to change your mind.
Copertini: I remember being payrolled at times by different companies.
Somebody would have a business and say, "Well, I'll put one
of your staff on my payroll as my contribution." So you were
able to finance staff, campaign staff, by means which you
couldn't possibly use any more.
Morris: Because it's a bigger operation now?
Copertini: No, because of the campaign regulations and reporting
laws and because it's illegal to take as a tax deduction
someone who hasn't actually worked for you. We were deprived
of another very lucrative source of income when it was ruled
that ads placed by businesses in campaign material or
fundraising dinner programs were not legally deductible.
Morris: I understand there are still ways around the payrolling
restriction even within the government. You carry somebody
on the Department of What-Not, but they're really assigned
to work for the governor.
Copertini: Do you mean in a governor's campaign? That was never all
right. As I said before, people who did this took leaves;
went off the payroll.
Morris: It's considered good form for a corporation to delegate
somebody for six months to go to work for the United Crusade.
I tend to think that political party activity is a special
kind of volunteer effort.
Copertini: Well, it is, but one is altruistic and the other completely
in self-interest, one way or the other. And, you know, it's
the thought that the biggest corporations, with the most
employees to send out there as contributions as well as actual
money, they're going to be the people who call the elections.
Morris: But nowadays you have a world in which individuals in
significant corporate positions give money to both candidates
in a race. If your company is large enough, I would think
you could send two people — let one go work for the Democrats
and one go work for the Republicans.
Copertini: Well, it's a thought. But when you win, you would still
be reminded of where your help came from even though it was
not special, not based on principle. There has always been
some sort of bet-hedging. But payrolling has stopped;
although if I 'm ever thrown back in the labor market , I think
it would be delightful to contemplate that it could still
happen. [laughs] But the reporting laws, the maximum
contribution laws and Internal Revenue have put a stop to it.
Morris: Am I right that the CDC is no longer a major source of
volunteers in local political action?
Copertini: It doesn't touch me, and maybe that is a partial answer to
your question. Nobody comes to me and asks if I will go to
this place or that to volunteer. Nobody solicits me to join
a club. There still are clubs that exist but I don't think
the recruitment is anything like what it used to be.
Morris: That's interesting, that something that was so important —
Copertini: Yes. It was beautiful, it was just beautiful.
Morris: Everybody I've talked to who was involved in the CDC talks
about it as the Golden Age of political participation.
Morris: The other question is: Do you take any time to keep an eye
on what the Republicans are doing? Is there any trading of
information? Or is that not considered appropriate?
Copertini: It's not practical and could well be detrimental to your own
cause. The danger of saying more than you intend is always
there. There may be a couple of people who are friends who
sit down and have a drink and talk politics, or even meet to
iron out a point to their mutual advantage, but on the whole
it's not appropriate.
Morris: Anything else that you would like to add about party operations
and what works well?
Copertini: Well, I think the Democrats throughout the country would have
been in real trouble had not Roger Kent taken the chairmanship
when he did. California is important to national elections.
After Truman declined to run and Stevenson lost, the party was
in bad shape. It was deficit-ridden, people had become
disenchanted or tired. There was no more patronage, the way
it had been in Malone's day, largely under Roosevelt and then
Truman, for post office jobs and the like. The Kefauver
delegation won and was considered by the old guard to be much
too liberal. The [Eugene] McCarthy days were troublesome and
people looked askance at Democrats. But Roger Kent, with that
significant and eminently respectable family name, his record
of achievement in the law, in the Navy and in Washington was
really responsible for putting it back together.
He had respectability in communities where none of us ever
set foot. People from old established families who had
respected names and means to raise and give funds. The people
who came into the party because Roger was there would often
Copertini: say they were the first Democrat ever in their families, and
they became important to the look and function of the party.
I think Roger's election was very, very important.
Morris: Yes. He was somebody that everybody could look up to?
Copertini: Exactly. He gave the party — again, that word — respectability
and he gave it entree.
Transcriber: Johanna Wolgast
Final Typist: Anne Schofield
TAPE GUIDE — Cyr Copertini
Date of Interview: April 8, 1986
tape 1, side A 1
tape 1, side B 15
INDEX — Cyr Copertini
Alioto, Joe, 22
appointments, by governor, 17
assembly districts, 4
Bendorf, Tom, 8
Betts, Bert, 16
Boas, Roger, 21
Boddy,, Manchester, 14
Bradley, Don, 5-7, 10, 14, 15, 17,
Brown, Edmund G. , Sr. , 9, 16-17, 20
California Democratic Council, 3,
5, 10-12, 15, 16, 18, 19, 22,
23, 24, 26-27
campaign finances, 2, 5, 10, 12-13,
15, 17, 19, 20, 23-27
campaign management, 1-28, passim.
Casady, Simon, 19
Cerrell, Joe, 6
Cerrell, Lee, 6-7
Chow, Albert, 4
Chow, Jack, 4
Coate, Robert, 20
congressional districts, 23
Core Foundation, 8
Cranston, Alan, 11, 18
Day, Madlyn, 13
Democratic party, Democrats, 3, 9,
11, 14, 20-22, 27-28
Democratic National Committee, 4,
Democratic National Conventions,
delegates, 17, 18, 22-24
Democratic State Central Committee,
1, 3-6, 10-12, 14, 15, 16, 19,
20, 22, 24-25
Dempsey, Van, 15, 20
Dollars for Democrats, 10
Douglas, Helen Gahagan, 14
Downey, Sheridan, 4
elections, 1942, 1
elections, 1944, 2
elections, 1948, 4-5
elections, 1950, 14
elections, 1952, 5-6, 11
elections, 1954, 8-9
elections, 1958, 16, 21
elections, 1960, 12
elections, 1962, 17
elections, 1964, 18
elections, 1966, 17, 19-20
elections, 1967, 22
elections, 1968, 22
elections, 1972, 21
Eliaser, Ann, 13
Engle, Clair, 8, 16, 18
Farrell, Mary, 8
Feinstein, Dianne, 8, 13, 21
Gatov, Elizabeth Smith, 8
Graves, Richard, 9
Heller, Elinor, 14
Huff, Martin, 15
Irish, in politics, 4
Jaicks, Agar, 24
Johnson, Lyndon, 22
Kennedy, John F. , 12, 18
Kent, Roger, 3, 6, 10, 11, 15, 18,
19-20, 21, 25, 27-28
Knight, Goodwin, 9
labor, and politics, 4, 15
Lapham, Roger, 3
legislature, legislation, 14, 20,
Lynch, Tom, 22
Magnin, Cyril, 2
Malone, William, 1-4, 9, 14, 20-21,
Marks, Milton, 21
McKinnon, Clinton D. , 6, 17
media, 7, 25
Miller, George, Jr., 5-6, 10, 11
minorities, in politics, 4, 22
Mullens family, 2
Muskie, Edmund S. , 21
Orrick, William H. , 19
Pelosi, Ron, 21
Porter, Julia, 14
Reilly, George R. , 3
Republican party, Republicans, 3,
9, 21, 27
Tuck, Dick, 7-8
volunteers, in politics, 3, 8,
9-14, 16-17, 18, 21, 22, 26-27
voter registration, 24
youth, and politics, 8, 11-12, 24
women, and politics, 8, 13-14
Salinger, Pierre, 18
San Francisco, politics in, 1-3,
13, 21-22, 24
Saunders, Thomas N. , 16-17, 18, 22
Shelley, John, 5, 14, 22
Stevenson, Adlai, 11-12
Regional Oral History Office University of California
The Bancroft Library Berkeley, California
The Don L. Bradley Memorial Project
FROM GRASSROOTS POLITICS TO THE CALIFORNIA
FRANCHISE TAX BOARD, 1952-1979
An Interview Conducted by
Copyright (IT] 1987 by The Regents of the University of California
TABLE OF CONTENTS — Martin Huff
CURRICULUM VITAE i
INTERVIEW HISTORY viii
INTERVIEW SUBJECT'S PREFACE x
I SEVERAL SHORT TAKES FROM A LONG POLITICAL MEMORY 1
Preliminary Conversation 1
Master's Thesis on the U.S. Supreme Court 3
1952 Election Bet: A Political Education 4
Party Field Worker Van Dempsey 6
Democratic Leadership Figures 9
The Kennedy Campaign: Oakland 1959 13
II A PERSONAL POLITICAL HISTORY 18
The Early Years 18
Democratic Party Activist 20
Appointment as Oakland Auditor-Controller: 1958 21
State Party Organization, North and South 23
Working with the Legislature 24
Unwinnable Elections 25
Family Issues 26
III PARTY POLITICS 27
The Kennedy Election 27
Adlai Stevenson and the California Democratic Committee 29
Thoughts on Political Career Building 33
Party Divisions Begin 36
Single Issue Politics 41
IV AN INSIDE VIEW OF STATE GOVERNMENT: 1963-79 43
Mr. Huff Goes to Sacramento 43
A Question of Style 46
Political Philosophy and Personalities 49
Mr. Huff Meets Governor Reagan 52
Establishing State Income Tax Withholding 54
V CONCLUSION 59
The Legacies of Roger Kent and Don Bradley 59
Closing Thoughts 61
TAPE GUIDE 65
"Tax Collector Huff —Politicians ' Enemy No. 1," Carolyn Street,
California Journal, November 1977,3810383 66
"Improving the California Personal Income Tax," Martin Huff,
University Extension, University of California, 1978 69
Comments at Memorial Service for Roger Kent, May 22, 1980 71
Curr i cu 1 urn Vi tae
Resi dence 1909 8th Avenue, Sacramento, CA 9581 S. Tel: 916/441-5410
Fro-f ess- i on Management Consu 1 tan t/CPA
E x p e r i e n c e
Current Martin Hu-f-f and Associates, Sacramento, California
Consultant - Management and Taxation
Sacramento Regional Transit District (public agency)
Member, Board o-f Directors, 19SO- (President, 1983)
Chair, Finance £ Administration Committee (1986)
Para transit, Inc. (n on -pro-fit corporation)
Member, Board o-f Directors, 1984- (President, 1986)
Prior 1978-80 Cali-f. State University, Sacramento
Faculty (part time), Public Administration
1963-79 Cali-f. State Franchise Tax Board (public agency)
Execu t i ve O-f -f i cer
1958-63 City o-f Oakland, Cali-f.
Auditor-Controller (n on -part, elective o-f -f ice)
1953-58 T imp son, Boyle & Hu-f-f, CPA's, Oakland, Cali-f.
Senior Accountant to Partner
1951-53 Peterson Tractor Co., San Leandro, Cali-f.
Assistant Chie-f Accountant
1949-51 Mulgrew Printers, Inc., Oakland, Cali-f.
Educat i on Federal Executive Institute, Char 1 ot tesv i 1 1 e , VA
Graduate, Senior Executive Education Program (1976)
California State University, Sacramento
M.A., Government (1970)
Un i v e r s i t y o-f Cali-f or n i a ,' Berkeley
B.S., Business Administration (1949)
Antioch College, Yellow Springs, OH
Hi gh School s:
Boys High School, Brooklyn, NY (1939-40) C 50 00]
Mallejo Sr . Hi School, Vallejo, CA (1938-39) 
The Principia, St. Louis, MO (1937-38) t 250]
American School, Guam, M.I. (1936-37) [ 101
Martin Hu-f-f page 1 1* March 1986
Prof es s i on &1
Assoc i ?. t i ons American Institute o-f CPA's (1953-85)
Calif. Society of CPA's < 1958-35)
Mi ce -Pre si dent (1968-69)
Govt. Acctg. & Auditing Comm. (1960-65)
Pro-f. Development Comm. (1971-74)
Beta Alpha Ps i , Nat'l. Honorary Acctg. Society C1949-)
Nat'l. Assn. o-f Tax Administrators (1963-79)
Fe de r a t i on o-f Tax Adm i n i s t r a t or s ( 1 963-79 )
Chair, Board o-f Trustees (1973-79)
Municipal Finance O-f -fleers' Assn., U . S .^Canada. ( 1 953-68)
Ch air, Nor them California (1 960-63 )
Society of Governmental Accountants (1958-63)
President, Bay Area Chapter (1959-60)
Commun i ty
Ser v i ce
Current Developmental Disabilities Service Org., Sacramento
Member, Board of Directors (1982-)
Prior Suicide Prevention Service of Sacramento County
Member, Board of Directors (1980-82)
U. S. Savings Bond Drive, Calif. State Govt. Campaign
State Chair (1977)
United Way, Sacramento Area
Commun i ty Serv ices PI ann i ng Counc i 1 , Sacramento
Member, Board of Directors (1969-71)
Citizens ' Adv i sor y Comm . , Sac r ame n t o (Jn i f . Sc h . District
Yice Chair (1968-69)
Council of Social Planning, A lame da County, Calif.
United Bay Area Crusade, San Francisco, Calif.
Member, Board of Governors (1962-63)
Oak 1 and Symphony Assn . , Oak 1 and , Cal i f .
Member, Board of Directors (1961-63)
Martin Huff page 2 16 March 1 9£
Alameda Count/ United Fund, Oakland, Calif. (1958-63)
Member, Public Relations Comm . (1963)
Member, Executive Comm. ( 1960 -63 )
Vice Chair, Central (1961)
Chair, Public Emp 1 oy e e s (I960)
Chair, City of Oak land (1 959 )
Vice Chair, City o-f Oakland <195S)
A 1 ame da Cou n t y I n s t i t u t i on s Comm i ss i on ( 1 959-63 >
Cha i r , Execu t i ve Comm . ( 1 960-63)
Council o-f Community Services - Oakland Area
Chair, Commission on Leisure Time Services (1959-60)
Recreat i on
5 & r • v i c e
Current Sacramento Book Collectors'' Club, Sacramento
USS SACRAMENTO , Ch ap t e r #91, USCS , Sac r ame n t o
Treasurer ( 1985-)
Prior Sacramento Council of International Visitors, Sacramento
Na t i one. 1
Serv i ce U. S. Merchant Marine
Able Seaman to Second Mate (1941-46)
U. S. Naval Reserve (inactive)
Apprentice Seaman (1941-44)
Per son a 1
Data Born: Hut chin son, Kansas 10 March 1923
Married: Anne E . M i 1 burn 3 June 1944
B.A., Antioch College (1943)
M.S.UI. , "Cal i f . State Un i v . , Sac to (1971)
Children: Roger M. Huff (39), At tor ney-at-Law &
Comdr . , USCGR , Chicago
Douglas M. Huff (37), Principal Basoonist,
Regensberg Philharmonic Orchestra,
Regensberg, West Germany
Susan M. Wagner (34), Housewife & Mother
of 2, Ex -I nsu ranee Supervisor
Hobbies: Philatelic covers, book collecting, swimming,
white water river running, travel, classical
mus i c
Martin Huff page 3 16 March 1986
Tr ade Ur. I on
Ac t i v i ty Cannery Workers Union (Teamsters Affiliate) (1946)
National Organization of Masters, Mates & Pilots of
America, West Coast Local «90 (1945-46)
International Brotherhood o-f Electrical Workers,
National Maritime Union, CIO (1943-45)
Pol i t i ca.1
Ac t i v \ ty Democ r a t i c Part >• Pos i t i on s :
Democratic State Central Committee
Treasurer (1956-53, 1960-63)
Co-Chair, 8th Congressional District (1954-56)
California Democratic Council
Democratic Council o-f Clubs, 8th Cong. District
Democratic Central Committee o-f A lame da County
15th A. D. Democratic Club (1950-63)
Con ven t i ons :
Democratic National Conventions
Delegate, Los Angeles (1960) - Kennedy/ John son
Delegate, Chicago (1956) - Stevenson/Kef auver
Cal i i or n i a Democrat i c Counc i 1
Delegate, Mem., Finance Comm., Fresno (1953)
Delegate, Mem., Credentials Comm., Long Beach (1957)
Delegate, V.C., Credentials Comm., Fresno (1956)
Delegate, Mem., Credentials Comm., Fresno (1955;1
Delegate Fresno ( 1 954 •
Delegate (Founding Convention) Fresno (1953)
Scribe ( Pr e -Found i ng Meeting) Asilomar (1953)
Democratic Endorsing Convention, A lame da County
Delegate Oakland (1953)
Democratic Endorsing Convention, 8th Cong. District
Delegate, Perm. Convention Chair San Leandr o( 1 956)
Delegate San Leandro( 1 954 )
Camp a i gn Ac t i v i ty :
Martin Huff page 4 16 March 1 9£
1962 General Election
Treasurer, Brown -for Governor
Petris -for Assembly (15th A.D.)
Pr i mary El ec t i on
Treasurer, Brown -for Governor
Petris -for Assembly (15th A.D.)
1960 Genera 1 El ec t i on
No. Calif. Treasurer, Kennedy /Johnson
Manager, Petris -for Assembly (15th A.D.)
1 960 Pr imary El ec t i on
Man age r , Petris f or Assemb 1 y (15th A.D.)
1 953 Fr imary El ec t i on
Man age r , Petris i or Assemb 1 y (15th A.D.)
Treasurer, Holmdahl -for State Senate (16 S.D.)
1 956 General El ec t i on
Treasurer, Stevenson/Kef auver - Al ameda Co
Treasurer, Richards -for U.S. Senate - Al ameda Co
Treasurer, Dollars -for Democrats -No. Calif.
Treasurer, Dollars -for Democrats - A 1 ameda Co
River -for Assembly (15th A.D.)
Pr i mar y El ec t i on
Treasurer, Stevenson Campaign - A lame da Co
Treasurer, Richards for U.S. Senate - A 1 ameda Co
River for Assembly (15th A.D.)
1955 Kirwan Dinner Committee - Al ameda Co
Stevenson for Pres. Or g . Comm . - A 1 ameda Co
Holmdahl for Council Campaign Committee - Oakland
1954 General Election
Treasurer, River for Assembly (15th A.D.)
Miller for Congress (8th C.D.)
BJornson for State Senate (16th S.D.)
River for Assembly (15th A.D.)
Graves/Roybal Campaign Committee - A lame da Co
Pr i mary El ec t i on
Treasurer, River for Assembly (15th A.D.)
Miller for Congress (8th C.D.)
Bjornson for State Senate (16th A.D.)
River for Assembly (15th A.D.)
Graves/Roybal Campaign Comm i tee - A lame da Co
Martin Huff page 5 16 March 1 9S6
1952 General El ec t i on
Stevenson/Spar kmen Campaign Comm . - Alameda Co
Miller for Congress (8th C.D.)
Pr i mary El ec t i on
Potstada for Assembly (15th A.D.)
Miller for Congress (8th C.D.)
1950 General Election
Miller for Congress (8th C.D.)
Douglas for U. S. Senate - Alameda Co
Pr i mary El ec t i on
Moore for Assembly (15th A.D.)
Miller for Congress (8th C.D.)
Roosevelt for Governor - Alameda Co
Douglas for U. S. Senate - Alameda Co
1945 General El ec t i on
Uernon for Assembly (14th A.D.)
Miller for Congress (8th C.D.)
Truman/Bark 1 ey Campaign Committee - Alameda Co
1946 General El ec t i on
Miller for Congress (8th C.D.)
Pr i mary El ec t i on
Roach for Assembly (14th A.D.)
Miller for Congress (8th C.D.)
Will Rogers, Jr. for U. S. Senate - Alameda Co
Kenney for Governor - Alameda Co
1944 General Election
Irwin for Assembly (14th A.D.)
Miller for Congress (8th C.D.)
Roosevelt for President - Alameda Co
Pol i t i c a 1 Pu b 1 i c a t i on s :
Alameda County Democrat: Co-founder/Editor (c. 1950-53)
F am i 1 y
Background Both parents, both maternal grandparents, and one
paternal grandparent were born in Kansas. My paternal
grandfather was born in Missouri.
Both parents were first generation college graduates
( baccal aur eates) .
Father enlisted in the U. S. Navy in WWI . At end of UIWI,
he elected to stay. As Ch . Pharmacist (Ch. Warrant
Officer) (pre-UIWI I) & Lt. Comdr . (WWII) served as hos
pital administrator: Great Lakes, IL ( 2x ) ; Mare Island,
CA (2x); Guam. M.I.; Brooklyn, NY (2x); Londonderry,
Martin Huff page 6 16 March 1984
No. Ireland; Portsmouth, VA .
Neither parent was a registered voter until my -father
retired -from the Navy in 1947. They registered as
Republ icans. MX -father had a personal disl ike -for FDR
because a -fellow hospital corps-man who became FDR's
masseur was promoted by presidential directive rather
than through competitive examination.
My social conscience was awakened by my junior year
history/English teacher. He had the most pro-found
a-f-fect on me o-f any teacher/pro-f essor in high school
or col 1 ege .
In 1940, I was a Ulillkie supporter. In our -freshman
Hall at Antioch College (a liberal school), o-f
seventeen o-f us, -fifteen supported FDR and two o-f
us, Willkie. <A11 -fifteen we re later n on -p o 1 i t i c a. 1
types, but mysel-f and the other UHlllkie-ite wound-up
being active California Democrats!)
My first political activity was in 1943. While waiting
in the union hiring hall for a ship, volunteers were
called for to punch doorbells for Mike Quill, the head
of the N . Y . C .Tr anspor t Workers Union, who was running
for Ci ty Counc i 1 .
My wife and I were married in New Jersey in 1944 and
came directly to the Bay Area after our honeymoon. My
wife had never been west of Chicago. In California, she
found she was disenfranchised. New Jersey had no pro
vision for absentee ballots and California had a one
year residence requirement. (I had travelled 1200 miles
round trip from New York during the war to register in
in Ohio Republ i can so I could vote against Robert A.
Taf t for U. S. Senate in the Ohio primary).
Anne was the first to hold a Democratic Party position
when she was appoin-ted to the Democratic State Central
Committee in 1948 by Assembly nominee Ernie Vernon. As
a State Committee member, she sat on the platform when
Harry Truman came to Oakland that year.
Huff page 7 16 March 19S6
Martin Huff is a treasure trove of thoughtful observations on
Democratic strategies, successes, and failures from his long career in
the nuts and bolts of party politics. An earnest, attractive person,
active in many causes though officially retired as executive of the
California Franchise Tax Board, Huff and his wife, Anne, got involved
in Alameda County legislative and congressional campaigns soon after they
moved to California in 1944. A stickler for detail and accuracy, Huff
became treasurer of the local congressional district committee and then of
the Democratic State Central Committee, where he worked closely with
Roger Kent and other statewide leaders.
The interview provides a picture of the sleepy local politics in
Alameda County in the 1950s, including a vignette of the awe inspired
by old Joe Knowland , publisher of the Oakland Tribune and long considered
a Republican kingmaker.
I finally concluded that they [the city council] were second-
guessing — they had no direct orders or knowledge — what they
thought Old Man Joe wanted. ...just from the little exposure
that I had, I was convinced that his philosophy and views on
issues weren't anywhere near as harsh, or conservative, or
reactionary, as the people that were executing policy — they
thought — in his name. [page 33]
Nothing daunted, Huff and friends succeeded in electing new blood to the
city council, and Huff himself served a term as city auditor.
Early meetings of the California Democratic Council are also
described, and local and state Democratic conventions. They convey a
sense of the excitement of those days and provide insights on
Governor Pat Brown, Senator Pierre Salinger, Assembly Speaker Jesse Unruh,
Huff's close friend State Senator Nicholas Petris, and on several notable
Although the interviewer had hoped to obtain information on
organizational developments after Roger Kent retired from Democratic
leadership, Huff stated that he had withdrawn from active party work when
he accepted an appointment from Pat Brown in 1963 to head the Franchise
Tax Board. What he provides instead is a fascinating account of the
FTB accomplishing a complex administrative innovation: the institution
of income tax withholding in 1972.
Ronald Reagan was then governor and strongly opposed to tax
withholding. Huff's account tells of securing the governor's agreement
and of the simultaneous passage of enabling legislation and setting up
FTB procedures to meet statutory deadlines. We see at work the skills of
negotiation and precision handling of detail learned in political campaigns,
and also something of the operation of a little-known, important state
Two interviews were recorded with Huff on April 2 and 23, 1986, in
his small, comfortable home on a tree-lined street in Sacramento. At the
first session, he sorted through a pile of photographs of political events
and gave the interviewer a brief glimpse of a fine collection of press
clippings he had kept since 1966 and letters to his son and grandson that
comment on public affairs. It is hoped that these materials will eventually
be deposited in the State Archives or other depository where they will
be available to scholars.
A lightly edited transcript of the interviews was sent to Huff for
review. In making revisions, Huff entered the entire manuscript on
his personal computer, a labor above and beyond the call of duty. Shortly
thereafter, his son, Roger, arrived for a brief visit, read the
transcript, and made a few additional suggestions. These were entered and
a second printout sent to the Regional Oral History Office. In
appreciation of his helpfulness on a tightly budgeted project, the interview
is presented as Huff prepared it. Minor variations from ROHO's usual
style reflect capitalization policy in state government.
22 April 1987
Regional Oral History Office
486 The Bancroft Library
University of California at Berkeley
INTERVIEW1 SUBJECT'S PREFACE
While I accept sole responsibility for the content and substance of my
remarks during the interviews, 1 wish to acknowledge the editorial
assistance of my wife, Anne M. Huff, and older son, Roger M. Huff. The);
identified typographical errors, pointed out instances where more
specificity as to names and dates wou Id be helpful, and questioned
comments and words of art that needed clarification and/or
amp 1 i f i cat i on .
26 January 1987
I. SEVERAL SHORT TAKES FROM A LONG POLITICAL MEMORY
Fr • e 1 i m I n ar y Con v e r • sa t i on s
Huff : Do you
Nor r j s : Sure .
Huf f ; There's
and ear 1 y 1 960 ' s ;
be i ng in 1 953 , i t
central c omm i 1 1 e e ,
season ' ] .
Morr i s :
abou t .
Morr i s
want to take a quick look at the pictures now?
a 212 Gang'' picture [Northern California Democratic
at 212 Sutter Street, San Francisco in the 1950's
when the California Democratic Council came into
was housed jointly with the Democratic state
as well as ad hoc groups and campaign committees 'in
Morr i s
Morr i s
e v e n
Th e y
looks like it's in the -fifties.
Here's another. See if you can identify what
took me a few minutes to dope it out.
re all delegates to something.
And they all look rather pleased. There's George Wallace.
Sure. These were all governors.
Good heavens! [laughs]
1966, the governors of the United States.
Meeting in Los Angeles'?
Yes, the 1966 National Governors' Conference.
I don't see Pat Brown.
Huff ; He was the host governor and was probably called away when
they snapped the picture.
H_u f f ; See the picture on the far wall? That's autographed both by
Vice President Hubert H. Humphrey and Governor Edmund G. (Pat) Brown.
That was taken at the conference at one of the large hotels in Beverly
Hills. I was at the conference on special assignment. I was in charge
of the 'little' Governor's Office for the conference. I was responsible
for all subject matter issues that might come up. It blew my mind
because I had never been that directly involved in the actual operation
of the Governor's Office in Sacramento. I can't even recall how I got
the assignment, but I assume it was Hale Champion's idea [Pat Brown's
Director of Finance at the time and formerly his Executive Secretary;
Champion, also, was one of the three members of the State Franchise Tax
Boa.rd, of which Huff was Executive Officer]. I had all these issue
papers, but knew only what was on an e i gh t-and-hal f -by-e 1 even- i nch
sheet of paper on any particular subject,
whole scope of issues dumped in your lap,
Morr i s : Awe -inspiring.
Hu f f ; Yes. This was the day that Life photographers were following
Pat Brown around all day. Pat went in to see the vice president and
talk politics for a few minutes. Everybody else who was waiting to see
Humphrey was sitting around the bedroom on the chairs and the beds. We
were just like cattle in a chute. When Brown finished his little
private chat, I had a particular assignment to get Humphrey to take
some action at the federal level on a labor issue
the first one in. I wasn't even aware there was a
When you suddenly have the
it really gives you a massive
As a r esu 1 t , I was
photographer in the
room. The thing about the photo was that both of them were sitting
their with their mouths shut listening to me. These are two men who
were rarely caught not talking. They both autographed the photo. Its a
col 1 ec tor ' s i tern .
Nor r i s ; I should say.
Hu f-f ; There's Ronald Reagan as governor.
Mor r i s ; You're looking very formal there.
Huf f ; Well, I really didn't want to be in a picture with the
governor. That was one of my employees.
Morr i s : I see .
Huf f : Here's one on the last days o-f Pat Brown as governor.
Morr i s ; Putting some plans together?
Hu-f i : Yes, reviewing our department's proposed work management
Here's a City o-f Oakland picture taken when I was leaving -for
Sacramento. That's City Manager Wayne Thompson and there's the mayor -
John Hou 1 i han , who 1 ater wen t t o j a i 1 , i i you recal 1 . There ' s a
little-known section of the State Constitution that goes back to Hiram
Johnson's day, that says that if a California public official accepts
free public transportation it acts to terminate his office. It's a
se 1 f -execu t i ng provision. [A Johnson reform to help break the hold of
the Southern Pacific on state and local officials.] Houlihan had
flown — some time before this picture --on an inaugural Delta flight from
Oakland to New Orleans, and had done it gratis. After he submitted his
travel expense claim, I called him into my office (not something even
an elected audi tor— control 1 *r does every day!) and told him he had
three choices before I processed the claim: have the City Council pay
for the air fare; pay for it out of his own pocket; or forfeit his
of f i ce as mayor .
Houlihan would have been better off in the long run, if he
had taken the third option. Politically, he didn't want to take the
claim to the council, for some reason I didn't know. George Christopher
[former Mayor of San Francisco! had been, in my opinion, violating the
Constitution for years, and Houlihan had been using as a precedent the
fact that Christopher had done this with the Chamber of Commerce paying
for some of his junkets. When he proposed that the Oakland Chamber do
1 ikewise for him, I told the mayor that wouldn't satisfy the
Constitution, so he paid for the flight out of his own pocket. For all
that, he was a bri 1 1 iant man.
Morr i s ; Hou 1 ihan?
Huf f ; Houlihan. His problems were alcohol and a classic case of the
pressures of public office. He ran a one-man attorney office, became
councilman, then mayor. The mayoralty pay was only $7,500 a year, and
he tried to maintain his social standing and general standard of
living, including raising a good size family, with that pay and a
declining law practice. He ended up dipping into his attorney's trust
fund and 'borrowed', as I recall , close to * 100 ,000 from the estate of
a w i dow .
Morr i s ; I know he came to grief.
Huff ; He served his time at Uacaville Ca state correctional
facility] having been convicted of a felony and been disbarred as a
result. One of Reagan's last acts was to restore his citizenship, a
considerable time after his release and rehabilitation.
Morris: You were in the mayor's office?
Hubert Humphrey, Governor Brown, and Huff at 1966 National Governors Conference, meeting
in Los Angeles.
Huf f ; No, I was the elected auditor-controller.
Morn I s : Th a t ' s right.
Hu-f f i 1 was independent of the mayor and city council.
Morr i s: So you know about the problems o-f beino, elected as auditor?
Huff : Oh, yes.
Master s Thesis on the U. S. Supreme Court
Hu-f f ; You wouldn't know what this is, but that's a photo o-f Federal
Circuit Court Judge Haynsworth,, who Nixon nominated to the U. S.
Supreme Cour t--C1 emen t Haynsworth. I interviewed him a-fter his
rejection by the U. S. Senate. That was the subject o-f my master's
thesis, comparing his rejection to the rejection o-f [President]
Hoover's nominee, Circuit Court Judge Parker. These were the -first two
such rejections by the U. S. Senate in this century.
Morr i s ; Really? Very interesting.
Hu-f i : Part o-f the story is how I got to see Haynsworth. I had my
two sons with me like a m i 1 i tary esc or t .
Morr i s ; In un i -f orm?
Hu-f-f : In uniform. One was a soldier at the Armed Forces School o-f
Music in Nor -folk CVa] , and the other had just received his commission
as an ensign at the Coast Guard Training Center in York town CVa] . They
drove down to Greenville, South Carolina, with me to the interview. I
later turned that interview into one with U. S. Supreme Court Justice
HUQO Black. I consider the Black interview, the h i oh point o-f my entire
Mor r i s : About the process o-f--
Hut -f : Well Black had voted as a senator to reject Parker, and I
used that, and the -fact that I had interviewed Haynsworth as my entree.
I have just -finished reading [summer 1936] his [Black's] widow's
memoirs, and tied in the date that I saw him and interviewed him in his
home in Alexandria, VA with a dinner he hosted in his home -for
Haynsworth six weeks later.
Morr i s ; That's interesting, that they continued to have personal
contact, though-- Professional curiousity — did you tape-record the
i n ter v i ew?
Hu-f-f ; No. I was prepared to. I had a tape recorder, but in both
interviews I made the judgment not to take notes or tape-record, or
even ask. In both cases, I just wrote like mad a-fterwards. A-fter the
Haynsworth interview, my sons were able to jog my memory as we sat in
the car outside the courthouse.
In the case o-f Black, I did take just one note, which was to
write down the name when I thought I had a parallel between the wife of
the attorney general under Hoover and Martha Mitchell [the wife of
Nixon's attorney general]. It's the one thing Black wrote back about to
tell me that she was somebody else.
Mine was one of his last interviews. I believe it was held
about twenty months before he died. CA good part of that later period
Black was in i 1 1 -heal th . ]
Morr i s ; How long were you able to talk to him?
About an hour and a half.
That's a remarkable job, to recall what you've heard for that
length of t ime .
Huff ; I sent my write-up back to him to review afterwards, and of
course, my understanding with him was no direct quotes. It was all
third-party attribution. The one human interest part of it was that he
had one phone call in the middle o-f the interview. His phone wasn't at
his desk in the study. It was on a table where he had to get up and go
to it. I -figured it must have been set-up that way on purpose'. When he
walked over to answer the phone, I wandered around. He had all these
large photographs o-f the court 'en bane"' in various years and at
various a-f -fairs at the White House. The walls were lined with books.
There were an awful lot o-f books about tennis. I didn't know anything
about his personal 1 i -fe at the time, but all his life he'd been playing
Morr i s : Real 1 y?
Huff ; I had no knowledge o-f this at al 1 . So when his phone
conversation was over he sat down, and the -first thing he did was to
pick up a paperweight, which was two bronze tennis racquets tipped
together. O-f course, I was desperately trying to -figure out to
reconnect the link a-fter his phone call. As a re-opener, I mentioned
that it looked like he had some interest in tennis. There was this kind
of pause and he very gently told me that his wife and he were out
playing that morning.
This was, as I recall, at the age of eighty-four. Then, of
course, when I read his widow's book, it was full of tennis. He even
kept at it when he had problems with his eyes--out there trying to hit
balls. The Blacks had their own dirt tennis court.
Morr i s ; Marvelous. Probably a great outlet for the frustrations of
sitting on the bench.
Huff : There's a couple of shots of me . I think those were taken by
Uan Dempsey. That would be about I960, or so.
Morr i s ; How late did you wear a crew cut?
Huf f ; I don't remember. Quite late.
There's me as a second mate in the Spring of '46.
Morr is ; That looks like a nice trip.
Huf f ! It was. Down the west coast of Central America — the coffee
run. It was after the war. It was my last trip as a merchant marine
of f i cer .
These pictures are all kind of random.
1952 Election Bet; A Political Education
This is the San Francisco Examiner — just after the election
52. That was the first and last time I ever made an election bet. I
assistant chief accountant for a Caterpillar Tractor dealer, and
receptionist was an ardent Republican, so I had bet her a pie in
face on the presidential race. When it came time to pay off the
it had become a cause ce 1 ebr e . There were batteries of
photographers, including Life magazine and most of the Bay Area
newspapers. (Life had earlier east coast election bet photos so mine
didn't make it, although it was the highest featured photo story to
that time by the local San Leandro paper --they ran it above their
masthead as a series of stills with the pie moving to my face as the
target frame by frame. I believe locating it that way was unprecedented
for them.) I was wearing a black armband with a donkey on it.
My company [Peterson Tractor, the Caterpillar dealer] finally
had gotten into the act, and wanted to make a full-scale show of it, so
they asked me not to wear a protect! ye apron, just let my suit be
ruined. They promised me a new suit. It was a mess because it was one
of those classic retake events. They had a dozen pies on hand.
Morr i s ! And you stood there while they threw all of them at you?
Huf f ; Not al 1 of them, but there were many retake requests. My kids
were small at the time. I think it was my second son who was just
terrified at what they were doing to his dad.
Huf f ; Here's a pretty good group. That's got names on the back.
Morr i s ; This is Ben Swig [manager/owner of the Fairmont Hotel], isn't
Huff : He's there. Joe Hough te ling [later state highway
commissioner, member of the Bay Area Development Commission, and
currently member of the Cal ifornia Tahoe Planning Agency], Roger
Kent — .
Nor r i s ; May, 1961. So this is a strategy session for the '62
camp a i gn?
Huff ; For a fund raising event, or something like that. These were
all moneybag types. Jane Morrison was there.
Cranston as state controller. I was auditor-controller
[Oakland]. The inheritance tax appraiser was the mayor of Oakland back
in the late ' 40 ' s , and that s a whole story in itself.
Morr i s ; Joe Smith?
Huff ; Joe Smith. In fact, it was that Oakland city council election
in '47 that taught me a lot about what to do and what not to do, in
terms of winning and losing political power. The new winning council men
made the worst political exercise in judgment. They'd had a general
strike in Oakland, and —
Morr i s : I n ' 46?
Huf f ; About then, and then came the election in '47. Five of the
i nine council men were up. At the time the council chose its own mayor.
So there was this group attacking the 'ins', and four of the five won,
which meant they didn't have a majority. But they insisted on electing
Joe mayor. (He had received the highest number of votes and it was
traditional to select the mayor that way.)
Morr i s ; This new incoming group?
Huff ; The incoming group, instead of taking the dean of the old
group as mayor. The new members were losers from that day on. They
rarely could muster five votes on any issue. It was so elementary, but
they were all so heady with victory, and the euphoria of it al 1 , and
what they were going to do, and —
Morr i s ; And refusing to make any concessions to the old guard?
Hu f f ; That's right, the old guard. Again, the art of compromise,
how to be practical.
Morr i s ; Did you take some pol itical science courses along with the
Huff : At Berkeley? [University of California] Never. I had no use
for them, I didn't feel they related to the real world at all. I took
government at Sac State [California State University, Sacramento]--!
got my masters degree there. But I did that at night.
Morr i s ! That was while you were in Sacramento?
Huf f ; Well, I'd actually started at Berkeley before I came up here.
Morr i s : And does the government curriculum include the political
aspec t s of it?
Huf f : Not really, no. Well, it would touch on it, but there were no
direct courses on the political side, although I was later a part-time
instructor at Sac State and did incorporate the political dimension,
including inviting politicians as guest lecturers. I learned all mine
the hard way. I had no use for people like Peter Odegard [former
Chairman, Political Science Department, UC , Berkeley and one-time
aspirant to be a U. S. Senator, circa 1954]. I thought he was a
"horse' s-ass" .
Morr i s : You were aware of the loyalty oath crisis while you were a
Huff ; Oh, yes. Didn't affect me directly.
Morr i s ; There wasn't any sense of student involvement in the issue?
Huff ; Maybe there was for others, but not with me. I worked full
time and was only on campus for classes.
Party Field Ulorker Van Dempsey
Huff ; There's a photo of my wife, Anne, and that's Betty Dempsey.
Mor r i s ; I hope along the way that you'll talk about Man Dempsey.
Huff : Oh, I could probably tell you some things that few knew about
Morr i s ; He is mentioned in several of our interviews with Democratic
party officials. They say he was really r nard worker, and we couldn't
have done it without him, but nobody says what he did.
Huf f ; Well, of course, a big part of his value was that he was a
laid-back operator. He was not a bureaucrat --he couldn't stand the
office, or office work, and he didn't want to be in San Francisco. He
was a field worker, and during special elections, a local campaign
manager; he was out there where the action was, talking to everybody,
and putting things together. I was trying to think of how I got
connec ted--that was one of your questions — to the state operation. Van
was also from A lame da County. If anybody was responsible for dragging
me over to San Francisco, it was probably Van, but I can't remember
spec i f i c--
Mor r i s ; He was on the state central committee payroll?
Huf f ; No, no. Never. Oh, I thought you meant a member of the
committee? On the payroll, yes. But, you see, what even Roger [Kent]
probably didn't know was that the entire time, even his labor union
time, he was independently wealthy. He never had to work a day in his
Morr i s : I see .
Huff ; He was the black sheep of his family out of Illinois, who
were all conservative Republ icans. His widow of now — what, eight years
or so?--still lives in the same modest home in Castro Valley. You could
never tell by Van's lifestyle, or anything he said or did, that he had
this independent wealth. In fact one of his principal problems was
trying to manage his investments and get as much of his estate as he
could transferred down to the next generation as smoothly as possible.
<" Smoothly" is defined as: with as few tax consequences as possible!)
Mor r i s ; And he was working for the Democratic party--was his
territory Al ameda County or was it a broader area?
Huff ; No, the whole hinterland.
Morr i s; The hinterland? The valley and the northern counties?
Huff ; The valley and the north, right.
Morr i s : In northern California?
Huff : Right.
Morr i s ; Southern California?
Hu-f -f ; Only in rare and special cases. Most o-f the special elections
were in northern California. Uan was raised in hard-ball UAW [United
Auto Workers] politics. He was a union officer, and there were two
other officers in the local at the San Leandro Dodge plant, which shut
down not too long after opening as a brand new plant. The local was
reduced to the three officers, as I recall. The expectancy was that the
plant would re -op en at any time. They ended up spending something like
two years cleaning toilet bowls, hundreds of them, in a big auto
factory—doing every kind of dirty, miserable job, just in the hopes
that, next week, or next month, they were going to re -op en the plant.
Keep that union alive. I mean, it was that kind of dedication.
Morr i s ; Even though the plant was closed, they continued to take care
of the maintenance.
Huf f ; It was a minimum kind of maintenance program.
Morr i s ; On the Auto Workers1' payroll?
Huf f i No, on the Dodge plant payroll. Well, they were also union — I
dorr t know the facts on that, I really can't say. If it was the union
payroll, there had to be some kind of connection formed to be actually
working in the plant for insurance purposes, and the like.
Morr i s : Right. So as far back as the ' 50 ' s , Uan was working on special
e 1 ec t i ons?
Huff ! Oh, yes.
Morr i s ; To make sure the Democrats were elected.
Huf f ; It was those series of special elections that really brought
the whole thing--made '58 possible when everything fell together. And
also made it possible because they were focused, so you could send in
your resources from everywhere. What in effect happened was that these
small elections would be invaded by all kinds of out landers, and we had
to be very careful about that because if you were detected as an
outsider, that worked the other way.
Morr i s ; Particularly in a small community, where a lot of people knew
Huf f ; Oh, yes, they knew everybody. Well, one of Uan ' s real assets
jwas this ability — he was virtually a chameleon. He just fitted into the
whole country style, and was accepted by the local people long before
there was even a hint of an election; just became the nuts and bolts
\ man .
This photo is under the Reagan administration, a press
i conference of all the department directors in my agency — so that would
! be , I don't know, 1970-ish. Have I got hair there?
Morr i s ; Yes, you're growing it out. Department directors? In the
Franchise Tax Board CFTB]?
Huf f ; No, the Agriculture and Services Agency. That was the agency
the FTB was i n .
Morr i s; [looking at photos] After Earl Coke left?
Huff ; Let me think. You know Earl Coke?
Morr i s ; I know of him by reputation and I've read parts of his oral
h i story .
Huf f ; Okay. He's a significant person, as far as I'm concerned,
because he was my agency secretary [cabinet officer], and he was what I
called a 'no bullshit' man. You only screwed up once with him, then
he'd just cut your head off. He was my strongest supporter in the
Reagan administration. I was the Democrat in the Reagan administration
<and that's another story involving the late State Senator George
Miller, Jr. [father of the current Congressman]). It was — I thought at
one time--my sort of end-of -the-wor 1 d thing.
Back under Pat Brown, Hale Champion one time had tried to get
me to create an extra public relations position in my department, so
that he could 'borrow it to use it in the Department of Finance. I
wouldn't countenance that. Anybody that was on my payroll had to work
for me. One of the old practices around there to this day — I think Bob
Williams, in the governor's office right now, goes back to [Governor]
Goodie Knight's time, and as far as I know has been on first the Public
Works payroll and then CALTRANS , but not on the governor's. The
director of Motor Vehicles under Knight used to work in the governor's
off ice --and was just nominally the head of Motor V.
I just wouldn't put up with that. It was contrary to
everything I believed in. I felt it violated the integrity of the
process. If they wanted a position, they should have to justify it. The
excuse was that, politically, it was hard to do, and I never bought
that. Anyway, I had turned Hale Champion down, which was very difficult
to do, but I did it. One day — this takes me back to Coke — we had hired
somebody out of General Services that apparently had been used by
Coke's office. We didn't know anything about it, we had just been going
through the regular hiring process, selected him and hired him. Once he
was on —
Morr i s ; A new hire, or somebody who had transferred within — ?
Huf f ; A transfer within state government who'd been in the General
Services department, but assigned to Coke's office. So we hired him not
knowing this. He got over to our department, and I got this call from
Coke, asking to con--
Morr i s ; I want my man back?
Huff ; He wanted to continue the arrangement. I groaned inwardly and
to myself said, "No". I paused, took a deep breath, and said, "No" out
loud to Coke. And I said to myself, "Here I go" and replayed to myself
the 'tape' of the Hale Champion conversation. I started to explain, and
Coke said, "No, you don't have to explain." And he hung up. I thought,
"My God, Huff, you know it's going to be hell from here on in!"
That actually worked the other way. From that day on, he knew
where I stood, and what I stood for. I found out that he had defended
me in a lot of situations where they were trying to, you know, get
political, and this type of thing, that I never knew anything about at
the time. He's a hero in my book.
Morr i s ; I've heard this several times about the '70s, I'm not sure
that somebody didn't tell me that this was written into a
regulation — that what you did if you wanted more staff, was you got
somebody appointed as a deputy —
Huf f ; I doubt if it was a reg, it was probably an executive order,
or something like that, but I'm not sure if that's any —
Morr i s; To codify the process of —
Huff ; Well, or try to legitimize it. But I don't think that does
legitimatize it, not in my book, furthermore exempt deputy positions
are strictly and specifically controlled in the State Constitution.
Morr i s ; It's interesting to find out that it goes back through several
adm i n i strat i ons .
Huf f : Oh, it goes back into antiquity. Matter of fact, one of the
jokes — this is a funny story on the Reagan administration — there's this
new, bright, young guy--he's still active in Republican politics, but
not quite as new, not as bright — but he'd been given the appointment as
secretary of the Toll Bridge Authority. It was an agency that had
nominal charge of all the state bridges, but the secretary was the only
staff. It was a three-man board, which included the governor as one of
the members, but was a pro-f orma outfit really run by Public Works. The
secretary's position was one of those spots that was used to staff the
governor's office, pure and simple.
So here he was, a bright-eyed guy. Over at Public Works they
had this huge sign in the lobby that started with the governor and
listed anybody that was anybody all the way down the line, including
the Toll Bridge Authority members, but not its secretary. He studied
the list and found that his position and name were not listed, so he
went to whoever was in charge of the sign, and asked to be included.
The person looked dumbfounded because everybody who had ever held that
position before had made it very clear that they did not want to be
1 i sted--f or obvious reasons.
Morr i s ; That they thought of themselves as being in the governor's
off i ce?
Huff ; Well, and therefore they wanted to be anonymous. They didn't
want any public record of it. The other piece of the story was that the
first time he went down to the Bay Area by car after he had received
. this august appointment, he came to the Carquinez Bridge, and stopped
and wanted to inspect it! The local bureaucrats were
non-plussed — here's this young kid, tall, good looking — and they said,
"What are you talking about, who are you?" He told them he was the
secretary of the Toll Bridge Authority.
One the bureaucrats got on the horn to Sacramento and the
conversation as this fellow tells the story on himself was, "Hey Joe,
we got this fellow, Dana Reed" --that was his name, he's still around in
the private sector — "says he's secretary of the Toll Bridge Authority,
whatever the hell that is, and wants to inspect the bridge!" Well, Reed
never got to inspect the bridge.
Morr i s ; Oh, dear.
Democratic Leadership Figures
Huf f ; [Looking at photo] I'm an emcee installing the Oakland
postmaster. Here's another where I'm with the governor [Pat Brown] this
is AB 80 being signed. That was the property tax reform bill, way back
i n when — ?
Morr i s; '66?
Huf f : Yes, the governor's last year. And that was a tough one.
That's the one [John T. <D>, llth A.D.] Knox and [Nicholas C. <D>, 9th
S.D.) Petris co-authored, and Petris got just a terrible beating in his
district on it. It didn't bother Knox at all. That's Petris.
Morr i s; Yes. That's interesting: Petris took the beating, and not
Knox, but Knox has left the legislature, and Petris is still there.
Huff ; Well, Knox left to make money. Knox used to carry all the
terrible bills, because he could get them through if anyone could.
Morr i s ! Yes, he did all the regional organization things —
Huff ; LAFCO [Local Agency Formation Commission]
Morr i s ; Yes.
Huf f ; Well, he did a lot of good things, but he also carried a lot
Morris: Because nobody else would carry them, or he had some interest
Just muscle, and money, and all that kind of--
There's old Pierre [Salinger], who helped bring the party down
when he ran -for U. S. Senator
 --the whole Engl e fiasco. That was kind of the beginning of the
end. That photo was taken when he was in the Unite House, with Kennedy.
Morr i s ; Uas that deliberate on Salinger's part, or accidental?
Hu-f-f ; Oh, no, it was just bad political judgment all the way around.
Morr i s ; Uas it that people were looking tor ways to dislodge Pat Brown
and h i s au thor i ty?
H u f f ; No, it w*= just the chemistry of the time. It was, I think,
people's ambition. I think this was one o-f [Don] Bradley's few mistakes
in judgment. He didn't make very many. But Pierre was so close to him,
had been such a part and parcel of the operation.
Morr i s ; Close to Don?
Huff : Yes.
Morr i s ; Uas it also partly that Salinger had been a technician working
on the nuts and bolts of political publicity? One of the questions I
have come to have is whether the kind of skills that go into publicity
and government organization and operation, whether those transfer to
actually being the elected office holder.
Huff ; Uel 1 , we could carry that off into what's happened to the
legislature where so many AAs [administrative assistants] have become
legislators. Uith a few rare exceptions, it's a disaster (Congressman
U i c Fazio comes to mind as an exception; he started as a state
legislative AA , then to state legislator, and is now one of the real
•'comers' in the Congress). My notion of how the system should work--and
I think this was one of Nixon's probl ems-- i s that everybody ought to
bring something to elective office, in terms of their private-sector
expertise, experiences and exposure. That they have a perspective, and
some depth of being. But this whole business of somebody coming out of
college and becoming an AA , and then something happens to the boss, and
they end up running and becoming--
Mor r i s ; Running for the boss' seat?
Huf f ; Yes, and the list is pretty long.
Morr i s ; The problem is that they lack other experience, other than
governmen tal ?
Huf f ; Yes, they haven't had any broadening experience. They don't
have anything to contribute, they're basically sterile. Nixon came
right out of the Navy in Uor 1 d Uar II. He didn't bring anything, other
than how to play poker. Ue 1 1 , that's how he got his start.
Morr i s; As a poker player?
Huff ; Uell , that's how he got the kitty that he used in his first
campaign for Congress.
There's a photo of George Miller, Jr. (late 1960s). Now that is
a nice picture, but it doesn't do justice to Miller in action. Uhen he
was chair of Senate Finance, somehow or other it would look like he
didn't even have a neck at all. It was just a head sitting on his
shoulders. That's right, all hunched down. And he wouldn't move his
head, he'd just move his eyes to his colleagues. Those were back in the
days when you didn't have recorded committee votes, and he would
announce the count of the vote after just calling for they ayes and
nays without a roll call. (And as far as I know, no one ever challenged
his announced vote no matter how disparate it might seem with the sound
of the ayes and nayes.)
Morr i s : I see. Whichever way he had — ?
Huf f ; That s right. I saw him once --remember Randolph Collier [Sen.
(D) 1st S.D.I, the Silver Fox? — I saw him do Collier in like he'd never
been done be -fore. It was a bill that Miller hadn't been briefed on (it
was a great Collier practice to come in at the last minute with a
'little old bill' that was innocuous and he had been carrying around
all session having just then dropped his meaningful amendments into
it), but Miller smelled a rat. So here's Collier presenting his 'little
old bill''. And here are those beady Miller eyes, that are shifting back
and forth, while he's asking penetrating, searching questions, until
: suddenly you could almost see the light bulb pop above his head--
Morr i s : Miller?
Huf f ; Yes, Miller. And he figuratively took out his sword and just
cut Collier s head off, as soon as he realized what the Silver Fox was
up to . C 1 aughs]
Huff ; This is an old picture of Nicholas Petris. Back in his more
youthful days. I have to tell you about Petris, because he's the
closest thing I have to a brother.
Morr i s; Real 1 y?
Huff ; Yes. I was campaign manager for his first two campaigns, and I
was one of two people that talked him into running the first time.
Morr i s ; For the assembly or the senate?
Huf f : The assembly, back in '58. Nick was a bright young attorney, a
first generation Greek. We first got acquainted shortly after I moved
into the fifteenth assembly district in 1949. We were starry eyed
idealists (and still are, believe it or not! --even with decades of real
life political experience under our belts). The young turks in the
fifteenth assembly district had run a number of candidates against the
incumbent Republican (Luther 'Abe' Lincoln). We recruited the best
• candidates we could find, but they were no match for an entrenched
Republ ican. To this day I don't know why Lincoln decided to step down,
j but we knew we really had a shot at the seat and that we needed the
best candidate around. Nick was clearly the one, but he was a very
reluctant candidate. We had to literally drag him into the race. I
remember taking him down to get a campaign photo before he had actually
filed his papers. The photographer blew a fuse and all the lights went
out. Nick's reaction was that that was an omen that he shouldn't run.
We 11 he did. The comb i nat i on of his h i gh cal i ber as a cand i da te and the
Kn i gh t -Know 1 and 'switcheroo' gave the Democratic Pary the victory that
eluded it for the four prior elections. In 1966, Nick moved up to the
Senate. Nick now shares the dean ship of the legislature with Senator
Walter Stiern of Bakers-field. Their actual time in the legislature is
identical, but Stiern has the edge because all of his has been in the
upper house. With his retirement this year, Nick becomes the dean.
There's an intriguing aspect to Nick's batting average on
legislation that he has authored. Most of his campaigns have not been
very tough, but a few years back he did have a tough one. We researched
his legislative record and it didn't have as many big name bills as we
would have 1 iked. We began asking why and soon turned up the answer.
The first thing one needs to understand about the legislative process
is that a new idea or new solution to an old problem almost never gets
enacted in the session at which it is first introduced. As a matter of
fact, it may take 4-5 times or more 'around the track' before the idea
even gets taken seriously. What we found was that in Nick's case, he
was far ahead of his time and colleagues in identifying problems and
developing solutions, but he had difficulty in getting anyone to pay
any attention to them until the problem suddenly became so acute it
demanded attention. About the only 'flaw' I can think of in Nick's
character <if it can be called that) is that he is so selfless that he
would rather see one of his proposed solutions enacted into law than to
get the credit. We discovered that time after time he had passed major
legislation on to someone else for any of a number of reasons <his
evaluation would be that the other author had a better chance of
getting it passed or a colleague ''needed'' his name attached to that
legislation in order to get himself re-elected).
A good example that comes to mind is the legislation that
created the Bay Area Conservation Commission. Nick conceived that
proposed solution and lugged it around the track a number of times,
then turned it over to Senator [Eugene] McAteer at the critical time
because Gene thought it would help him in his planned campaign to run
for Mayor of San Francisco.
A different kind of example is the auto emission legislation
that was finally enacted by the Congress. Nick gets the major credit
for introducing the basic concept when no one was listening. He also
made a historical record that may never be repeated when he managed to
get the identical bill introduced in six state legislatures at the same
Here is an informal shot — this is after Pat was governor. It
doesn't have a date on it, but it was after -'66.
Morr i s ; Now who's that leading the band?
Huff ; That is Frank Mesple', he's a tradition in himself.
Nor r i s ; Really nice guy, yes.
Huff ; His last act, practically, was to appear before a class of
mine at Sac State [ Cal i f orn i a State University, Sacramento] as a guest
lecturer. He had his own class at Davis [UC3, and classes were just
starting. He had not been teaching for a while and was using mine as a
warm-up — this was on a Thursday, and his class was to start on Monday.
He was a lobbyist for Sacramento County. At the Franchise Tax Board, I
occasionally hired him to come and expose my bureaucrats to what
lobbying in the legislature and in the governor's office was all about.
We'd actually enter into a contract with him.
So I picked him up and brought him out to the campus. Just
walking from the parking lot to the class he had to stop and rest--he
was having heart problems — then he had a whole personal 1 ife —
Morr i s ; That's what we were told.
Huf f ; Disaster with his wife, and that's a whole sad story in
itself. And his children and everything. Well, I delivered him home
after class. He never showed to his Monday class. Finally a friend went
to check, and he had died in his apartment sometime between Thursday
night and Monday morning.
Morr i <=, : That's a shame.
Huff ; And this is the classic one [photo] of Cyr [ Coper t i n i ]. It's
the best picture I've ever seen of her. So, if you want to use that--
Mor r i s : Yes, please. What a lot of energy, and good humor. And
Huf f ; Oh, yes. Those who didn't know her, but were asked to describe
her would refer to her as that little Italian girl if they knew her
name. The problem is her maiden name is Mullens, and she's as Irish as
Paddy's pig! And, of course, she goes back to Bill Ma lone. She was
Mai one's secretary. That's the big continuity. In her cranium rests the
institutional memory ot" the Democratic party in Cal i-fornia -for about
f i ve decades !
Morr i s : I wondered it either of you would know about when Mai one was
leader of the Democratic party.
Hu-f -f : She was a teen age kid when she went to work -for him. And, of
course, in her later years she said, "If I'd only known, and
understood—had the background..." to fully appreciate what was going
on around her .
Huf f ; This is the 1958 Al ameda County endorsing convention, and
that's my older son in the front row. He's now an attorney in a law
firm in Chicago, and a full commander in the Coast Guard Reserve.
This is the same deal , with Pat coming into the meeting as the
Anga Bjornson, George Rice, and John Holmdahl. Holmdahl had
been B j or n son's student in high school --she had run for state senate
several times before and lost back in the old days. She thought she
'owned' the slot, but these were new times and one had to go through
the endorsing process. All three were therefore in bitter, locked,
head-on contest for the endorsement. Holmdahl won the endorsement, the
primary and then went on to win the election. George Rice had cancer
and died within a year or so, but his supporters never forgave that
victory. Nor did Bjornson and her supporters ever forgive Holmdahl for
turning his back on his former teacher. (Holmdahl later resigned as
state senator for personal reasons, subsequently ran again and was
elected and then was appointed to the District Court of Appeals by
Jerry Brown where he still serves.)
Morr i s: Does that kind of emotional split at the local level, carry
over into a gubernatorial race, or a--?
Huff ; No, "well, it affected everything just because there were
Morr i s ! Within the East Bay"'
Huff ; The East Bay and especially up in the legislature. Bob Cr own
[state assemblyman] was an ardent Rice supportei and he never forgave
Holmdahl. The one anomaly of all that was Nick. Nobody ever gets mad at
Nick Petris — exasperated, yes, but never mad. He was Crown's close
friend, and he was Holmdahl's close friend. But I was Holmdahl "s
treasurer, and Crown never forgave me for that.
Holmdahl was his own worst enemy. Personality-wise he left a
lot to be desired. That was one of those rough -tough deals.
The Kennedy Campaign; Oakland 1959
Morr i s: Let's talk about Kennedy.
Huff : It was '59. I was treasurer of the party (north), and I was
auditor-controller of Oakland.
You know, in '59 Kennedy started his presidential effort in
A lame da County. This was basically, before he was an announced
candidate. Because I was auditor-controller, I was in a position to put
together the necessary security with the police department and get the
phones installed for the press. Once there is an announced campaign,
the committee makes these arrangements. These days once the candidate
becomes the nominee of the party, the Secret Serv :? steps in and takes
over security. (In the old days, when an election was close, the Secret
Service was the outfit to watch. When they suddenly appeared like
apparitions around the presidential candidate, you could be pretty sure
you had a w i nner ! >
We provided Kennedy a motor cycle escort (I can still remember
being squeezed between JFK and the driver [Osborne A. Pearson,
assistant postmaster-general and later acting secretary of the Navy in
the last six weeks of the Truman administration; and, a Holmdahl aide
in later years] in the front seat of a borrowed Continental), set him
up out at Mills College with a speaking engagement before the student
body and faculty with photo opportunities for Life and other media, but
the luncheon I emceed was a disaster that Kennedy never forgot, because
this state was locked in pr e-conven t i on pol itical maneuvering, and at
that point the powers that be didn't want to touch him or have him
touched, so there was a boycott by some of the local leadership. We
really had a respectable turnout, especially considering the
circumstances, but it wasn't a jam, and Kennedy didn't 1 ike that.
Nor r i s : Why were the Brown people boycotting Kennedy?
Huf f i Well, nobody had made their decision on a presidential
candidate in '59. This was way premature. From this perspective it's
hard to remember that he was not really a heavy duty national figure at
the time. We were just suiting up and everyone wanted to keep their
options open, especially if it was decided that the governor should be
the favor i te son .
Morr i s : Right, but didn't you want to take a look at him, and see
whether you might want to?
Huff ; There was a lot of jockeying going on. I can't remember all
the details. I know Larry O'Brien came out --you know who Larry O'Brien
Morr i s : He was party chairman at that point.
Huff : Well, he wasn't at that time, this was before then. At the
time he was just a Kennedy staffer, but later became his campaign
manager. I remember going to dinner with him, just the two of us, in
San Francisco, and his whole goal was to pump me in terms of where
everybody was vis-a-vis Kennedy. I spent the entire evening giving him
the San Francisco tour which I had developed for people. Every time he
asked a pointed question, I would point up to the Co i t Tower, or some
other landmark. I spent the whole night not giving him any satisfaction
at all without out-and-out stiffing him.
Morr i s : Was Jesse Unruh [former speaker of the assembly; currently
California state treasurer] at that point ready to throw in with
Huf j ; No, that was preliminary, this was before all that. Nobody-
real ly knew what they wanted to do, and, of course Brown — that was, I
think, the thing — the question whether Brown wanted to be --or should
be — a favorite son, which he had been before C'52]. They hadn't made
that judgment, and, of course, people were having trouble, were
agonizing over whether they wanted to support Kennedy or not because of
the rel igious issue. There was a lot of mental anguish going on. Then
there was a slew of candidates, you know.
Morr i s; Right. [Estes] Kefauver was still around, and [Hubert]
Humphr ey .
Huff : Ye s , and [ S t u ar t ] Sym i n g t on , an d , of c our se , [ Lyn don ] Jon n son .
Everybody and his brother. That convention's delegate slate for
California was deliberately put together in a balanced manner so that
everybody felt they were fairly represented, all the various
presidential leading contenders that is, so they wouldn't come in to
the Cal i-fornia arid make a bloody primary out of it. It was to keep
everybody out. And that's what weakened the delegation. It was a
brill i an t move, but Broun always carried the onus that he had a
delegation that he couldn't control. Well, it was designed that way. I
was one o-f the Kennedy delegates. (I'm a member of a select group -from
the 1956 convention who were Humphrey supporters for vice president but
couldn "' t stomach another round o-f- Kefauver when HHH [Humphrey] -folded,
so voted -for Kennedy -for the vice presidential nomination.)
Mor r i s ; So that when they got to the convention they could vote
proportionately, according to candidate strength?
Hu_f_f : No. The purpose was to keep the contenders out o-f Cal i-fornia
in the primaries, because they -felt that would do a lot o-f damage to
everything else they were trying to do. That was the main goal , but
then, by the time we got down to Los Angeles, the convention was chaos.
You know, Adlai Stevenson was there as another unknown factor.
Nor r i s : Th a t ' s r i gh t .
Huff ; You had afl the old Stevenson loyalists, of which I was one.
My personal view of Stevenson was that he contributed more to the
nation by losing in '52 and '56 than Eisenhower ever did as a sitting
president, despite the current revisionism underway on Ike's behalf.
Mor r i s ; In terms of getting people involved, and participation--?
Huf f ; Involved and motivated and inspired, plus identifying the
problems of the times, as well as articulating proposed solutions. In
': '56 Ivwas following Stevenson around in the Bay Area in various
capacities, including chauffer ing him from the San Francisco Airport to
the Fairmont in an open car. I saw him revising his speeches. He kept
staff up all night, and a speech was never set. It drove the press
crazy, it drove the staff crazy. At six. o'clock one morning, he was
still doing revisions, and in those days they still had to cut stencils
j and run them off .
Morr i s ; In order to get the text to the press?
Huff ; Yes, the practicalities. Of course, presidential candidates
typically give the same canned speech and just drive everybody crazy
the other way with the media and campaign staff listening to the same
tired, old speech. (Reagan is still delivering The Speech!) The
'working' press is basically lazy. That's why Hubert Humphrey was
always in trouble too, because he wouldn't follow his text.
Mor r i s ; So he'd say something, and the press would be quoting
some thing el se?
Huff ; Yes, and they hated that. A final footnote on Stevenson. I
believe he still holds the all time record for being the only
presidential candidate in the history of the country who ever said
anything during his campaigns that was worth preserving.
Oh, here's Judge 0 Gar a. That must be a name you've run
acr oss .
Morr i s : San Fr an c i sc o .
Huff : Yes, Gerald O'Gara [(D) 14th S.D., 47-553. He was always my
favorite state senator back in the good old days before he became a
Mor r i s ; Now, why was he your favorite senator?
Huff : I don't know, just because of his style. He was always a
gentleman, and he was never pushy, never had an exaggerated sense of
who he was, and always remembered my name — to this day (or at least
within the last year or so). For ego stroking purposes, the latter is a
pretty good reason all by itself!
And I have my Joe Know land story - my personal story [Jos. R.
Know land. Publisher, the Oakland ( Cal I -f orn I a) Tribune and -father of
former Senator William F. Kn owl and - both deceased].
I was the -first person appointed to the A lame da County
Institutions Commission after the County Board of Supervisors changed
their pol icy and decreed that one person could only serve two terms. So
somebody died, or their eligibility to continue to serve ended under
the new rule, and here I was, this young, not-dry-beh i nd-the-ear s-guy
(in terms of knowledge and experience in the public health field) in
his late thirties.
Nor r i s ; Are you auditor yet, or are you still a private citizen?
Huff : The appointment preceded by several months my being city-
auditor -con trol 1 er , but my actual service was primarily in that
capacity. These guys had been on the commission since the year I was
born (literally), including Joe Know land. So I was the new guy on the
block. I attended several meetings - they were monthly luncheon
meetings at Highland Hospital, the old county hospital.
I had noticed that Joe came in his chauffered limousine. The
poor chauffeur sat out in the car for two hours waiting for him. City
hall was just a few blocks from the Tribune Tower, so one day I said to
Joe, "Why don '' t I pick you up and and deliver you, rather than having
the car wa i t?"
He agreed, so I did. I never was really sure he knew who I
was, until one day we were driving down eleventh street, which is
one -way, and stopping at Br oadway--you have to go around the block to
drive in front of the Tribune Towei and he nodded, and pointed down
toward Jack London Square. My predecessor tw i ce -removed [as
auditor-controller] had been a coalyard operator, and his coal yard had
been located at the foot of Broadway. That was the first time, I was
really sure that he knew who I was.
One time — this ties in with Houlihan [John Charles Houlihan,
first a councilman, then mayor of Oakland, later sent to jail for
embezzling his attorney's trust fund] --the Tr i bune had decided to
endorse Houlihan for mayor, and Knowl and told me that, driving back
•from Highland. This was a major slip in the newspaper game. By the time
I got back to City Hall , parked my car and was in my office. Know land's
secretary was on the line, and she said, Mr. Knowl and revealed a
confidence which he should never have done, and asked me to keep that
confidence. (It was still about three days away before they were going
to publish the endorsement.) He might die, or whatever. So I said,
sure. I never broke that confidence.
Joe was pretty old in those days. He would sit at the
meetings, and would doze off, but if anything came up of interest to
him as matters droned along — it was all done by rote; the administrator
r an ever y thing, and e v e r y thing was c on f i r me d u n an i mou sly. Th ere had
never been a -'no'' vote cast in the history of the commission, as I
later determined. If Joe was interested in an item, his eyes would pop
open, and the minute he showed any interest, everything else would
stop, so he could have his say.
The first really interesting thing that came up was the first
go-round when the proposed budget was presented by this administrator,
who was an old bureaucrat. He''s got this document in front of him. We
don't have copies of it. He's presenting it and asking the commission
to approve the budget.
Nor r i s ; Of course.
Hjjf_f : I'm sitting there, and, you know, how am I going to cope with
this? I voted "no" --the -first -'no'' in the history of the commission, I
was later told — I don't know i f that's literally true. And I explained
my vote. I said, "I can't vote -for something that I haven't seen. In
good conscience I can't do that."
There was a stunned silence. The administrator, who had jowls,
,i and he literal! y--
Mor r i s ; Would that be Dr. Wh i tecot ton?
Huff ; Wh i tecot ton , that's the one. His jowls went — like a turke> he
went purple, red, white. I thought he was going to have apoplexy and
,die right on the spot. Well, what they did was unprecedented. They
'\ created an executive committee of the commission, made me chairman of
the executive committee, and handed me the budget.
Morr i s : Good heavens!
Huff; So I took this document awa> 1 didn't have anybody to work
with — and I went through that thing, and I really had trouble making
' heads or ta i 1 s of it.
Morr i s ; And you're about to be city auditor?
Huff i I was the city auditor-controller by that time. But I just had
real trouble understanding it. I finally went to Earl Strathman [county
administrative officer], and told him, "I just spent umpteen hours
trying to analyze this thing, and it just doesn't look right, but I
don't have the staff to analyze it in depth." He took that budget and
literally threw it in the wastebasket. His staff prepared the budget
that year for the county institutions!
Morr i s ; That's what you call zero-base budgeting!
Huf f : [laughs] That's my whole story on Joe Know land.
Morr i s ; Well, he too is a kind of t he -end-of-t he-era figure.
Huff ; I had a theory there. You know, they used to talk about the
'Know land machine', and there really wasn't a Kn owl and machine at al 1 .
These cats that were on the city council were really incompetent, the/
were just terrible people. The joke used to be, you know, any time they
voted they had to look over at the Tribune Tower and see whether the
shade was pulled up or down. I finally concluded that they were
second-guess i nq — they had no direct orders or knowledge — what they
thought Old Man Joe wanted. In his later years — he was a vicious
son-of-a-gun earliei but in his later years he was very mellow. He was
writing his memoirs, and all that kind of business.
And just, from the little exposure that I had, I was convinced
that his philosophy and views on issues weren't anywhere near as harsh,
or conservative, or reactionary, as the people that were executing
pol i cy--they thought — in his name.
Morr i s ! They were interpreting what they thought he wanted without
bothering to ask him?
Huf f ; Right, or anybody. It's kind of an interesting thing, and it
happens often. It happens in state government all the time. Everybody's
always second-guessing what they think the governor's position is, and
they'll extrapolate from some other issue.
Morr i s ; They take what they think the governor's position is, and go
forth and say, I am doing this because the governor wants me to?
Huff ; Oh, yes. That's a great game.
Mor r i s ; Let's go back now, and —
We've wandered all over the place.
Well, its fascinating, and gives me some marvelous insight
into what was going on.
II. A PERSONAL POLITICAL HISTORY
The Early Years
Morr i s ; I ' d like to go back to the beginning and ask, how you happened
to pick the Bay Area when you got out of the service and had a new
wife, and it you came with an interest in — ?
Huff : No--my wife [Anne M. Huff] had never been west of Chicago. Ue
were engaged twice. She was a little Quaker girl from a suburb of
Newark [New Jersey]. I met her in the fall of 1940 at Antioch [College,
Yellow Springs, Ohio]. She was a transfer student from Earl ham College,
a small Quaker college near the Indiana-Ohio border. The first time I
mentioned going to California, she just about froze mentally at the
very thought. When she went to Earl ham from high school, her picture of
Indiana was of buffaloes, cowboys, and Indians. And, of course, in her
mind, if one went further west, it would just be worse!
I don't know what it was. I '' d lived in California three times,
i n term i t ten 1 1 y —
Morr i s ; As a youngster growing up?
Huff ; Yes, and that was where I wanted to be. The specific thing
that brought me here was, I had, after the war started — let's see
everything reminds me of something else. I was in the maritime service.
I joined in September of '41. I went in the Naval reserve in November
of '41, just a month before the war broke out. So we were on this
training ship, the war came along, and they had us take our ship down
to St. Petersburg [FLA] — no guns, white ship, the whole Atlantic coast
lit up, you know. They [German subs] were sinking tankers. They were
very selective — they didn-'t sink empty tankers, they waited for loaded
ones, coming the other way. We actually sighted a periscope. A sub
stuck its nose up and decided that we weren't worth the torpedo.
Well, I had quit college, which is a whole story in terms of
how I was motivated to finish college after the war. My accounting
professoi he was my adviser — did everything to try to persuade me not
to quit at the end of my first year of college. He said, "You know the
odds against you ever going back and finishing college after one year-
are extremely high. Stick it out for two years, and then leave. Your
chances are better."
Well , it was a money question — Antioch was very expensive — and
I was going — well , that was another question. I'd won some money, and
that helped quite a bit on this. I had won a car at the New York
World's Fair , and sold it. Never drove it. But anyway, I just
wanted out, and I wanted to go to sea. My dad had wanted me to go to
the Naval Academy. I didn't want to go the Naval Academy. My joining
the Naval reserve was kind of a sop to him.
But I really attribute that fact that I went back to college
and got a degree to that challenge by Professor Magruder . I had to
prove that he was wrong. It's kind of an interesting thing. I had
applied for, and was admitted to King's Point, the Merchant Marine
Academy, so rather than coming up through the deck, you go to the
academy, and in umpteen months you're a 1 i censed officer. Well , I got
there, and after about four months, I had a 4.0 average, but the place
was in total chaos, and here I am nineteen years old, and I just
couldn't tolerate sitting there in that academic environment with the
war go i no on .
So I resigned. There were two ways you could get a [mere hart
marine] license: sailing two years on deck gave you the required
experience to sit -for a third mate's license; or going through what I
considered the sterile classroom way. So I quit [school], much against
the advice of all the wise -he ads there who tried to tell me to be
patient. So that, again, became a challenge, because I did sail on
deck, and that's what got me to California. I came out to California in
•'44 on my honeymoon to apply for, and got admitted to, the officer
candidates' school in A lame da, and got my third mate's license there.
That was in the spring of ' 45 .
Mor r i s ; Did you at that time think that the university was near
A lame da, and you would pick up the other courses — ?
Huff : Well, I actually took some correspondence courses at sea.
Let's see, how did that work? I made a trip before I applied to DCS.
Yes, that's it. I came out in June of '44, middle of June, and sailed
within ten days. Came out with a brand new wife. We arrived about a
month after Libby CGatov] and her then husband [Fred Smith]. We stayed
at a hotel down on Geary, one block from the theaters, at the Fielding
Hotel. Stayed there three days—that was the wartime imposed
limit — then found a place over in Oakland, an old 'Jictorian that had
belonged to a vice president of the Bank of America [Frank Belgrano,
1132 7th Avenue, since demolished]. It had been remodeled into wartime
I made one trip to the South Pacific, came back, applied for
school , and had several weeks to wait. It was in those weeks that I
worked at a shipyard [Kaiser, Richmond]. That's when I belonged to the
electrical workers [union], wiring as an electrician's assistant, or
whatever they called them in those days. But on that trip I signed up
and took an economics course, from university extension [DC, Berkeley].
You know, just trying to keep my hand in. We had a lot of time at sea.
And that was my game plan. I had decided that to be in
pel i tics, I had to have some kind of bread and butter ticket, and I
decided accounting was it.
Mor r i s : You didn't plan to stay in the merchant marine, ever?
Huff ; I can't say that, but Anne didn't want me to.
Mor r i s : I see .
Hut f : I had to make that judgment. I was a second mate shortly after
the war was over.
Mor r i s : You mentioned that your wife was the first one to have an
official Democratic party position. Did the two of you take up politics
toge ther ?
Huff ; Basically, except that she was here, and I was away. I was
only here intermittently, and when she hit here in June of "44 she was
disenfranchised — no absentee vote in New Jersey, and she had to have a
year residence in Cal ifornia in those days. She wanted to make up for
it, so she was going to gather every vote she could to make up for the
lack of her own vote. So she became quite the political activist. She
was the first one to hold a party position. She worked for an assembly
candidate who won the nomination over in the City of Alameda. Our
little piece of Oakland was in that district. Because of her work and
where he lived, she was appointed to the state central committee. It
was by virtue of that, in '43, that she sat on the platform when Truman
came to Lakeside Park. He came to the park because nobody had any money
to rent a hall. There was a transit strike underway, which should have
discouraged anybody -from coming; a lot o-f people still didn't have
automobiles. Some 25,000 peope managed to get to that park to hear
Harry Truman. That was the -first overt sign we had that his candidacy
had something going -for it.
Nor r i s ! That there were Democrats out there looking -for something to
be involved in.
Huff ; Despite--you know, everything you read in the paper, why, he
didn't have a prayer. He was having trouble getting enough money to get
his train out of the station.
Democratic Party Activist
Morr i s ; Did you then continue working -for Truman, in the campaign?
Huf 4 ; Oh, yes, sure. Well, those were the days of the Independent
Progressive Party CIPP], too, the third party movement with Henry
Wallace, and all that kind o-f business. And there was a big split off.
We were the Trumanites, and they were the rebels. I still remember
being in a meeting in somebody's home, before the I PP was -formed, and
it was part o-f the chemistry o-f the dialogue that was going on.
Somebody bad-mouthed Eleanor Roosevelt, and that did it -for me. I got
up, and I said, I don't want any part o-f this, [laughs]
Morr i s ; So after the election you just stayed involved in party
ac t i v i t i es?
Huf f ; Yes. Well, there wasn't much going on between elections,
because there was no on -go ing structure, anything like that. It just
sort of all came together at election time. In 1946, Will Rogers, Jr.
had run for the US Senate. We were active in that campaign. The state
chairman was an Oakland type - Osborne A. Pearson. He was kind of a
pompous character. As previously referenced, he was later assistant
postmaster general under Truman, and in the last six weeks of the
Truman administration, was acting secretary of the Navy.
As the Rogers for US Senate chairman, he threw Ronald Reagan
off the committee for being a commie I [laughs] Years later, as
governor, Ronald Reagan appointed him to the World Trade Commission.
Pearson wound up being Holmdahl's field man. Pearson was one of those
guys who could tell stories, and had political sceneries that would
make your hair stand on end.
Morr i s ; Roger Kent says he became aware of you and — who was your
cohort — Martin Rot hen berg , when you came and volunteered to tidy up, or
improve the state--
Huf f ; Yes, I don't remember how all that came about. It just sort of
happened, I guess.
Morr i s ; Tell me about Martin Rothenberg. Did you and he spend time
together thinking of —
Huf f ; Well, he was a congressional district co-chairman in Contra
Costa, and I was in Al ameda County, and we were about the same age. He
later became a superior court judge. I think he's probably retired by
now, or thinking of it, if he hasn't. He was [state committee]
secretary at the time I became aud i tor-con tr ol 1 er . In the year-
following my appointment I would have to stand for election, so I
stepped down as party treasurer and he took my place.
Appointment as Oakland Aud i tor -Con tr ol 1 er . 1958
Hu-f -f ; I was appointed — that's a whole story, in itself, of a
political operation. But I had a period there where I thought I'd
better be super non-par t i san until I was elected. So I got off as
treasurer of the northern committee and Rothenberg succeeded me. I then
succeeded him, after he, kind of, took the interregnum for me.
MX appointment [as auditor-controller] was a classic political
maneuver --the incumbent had died in office. This was in Max of 1 95S ,
and we were busx. We had [Nicholas] Petris running for assembly, and
Pat Brown running for governor, and all that going. And I had been
planning to run for auditor-controller — that was my political ambition
at the time. He would be up in the next odd year--' 59--and that was
going to be my fledgling run for political office. So he died, and I
threw my hat in the ring. The citx charter gave the council the
authority to make the appointment to fill the unexpired term.
Well, this is almost a story-book thing. Petris, and Holmdahl,
and several others and I all went to this fellow's funeral [David
Rosen]. After the funeral, we stood in the alley outside the funeral
home and plotted how I could get the appointment. Holmdahl was a city
councilman at that time [and running for the Democratic nomination for
state senator], Petris was sign if cant, too. He was running for the
Democratic assembly nomination in our district, and I was his campaign
manager the primary election was only a few days away. Petris was
connected with a fellow Greek on the city counc i 1 --Pe te Tr i pp . Pete had
control of a couple of votes. Well, the inside candidate was one of
their fellow councilman, who was an accountant. But these councilman
hadn't read the city charter. It said—flat out — that no one could be
--pointed to a city position within two years of service on the
counc i 1 .
They didn't know that, we did. And on the strength of that, we
put together a second string committment: that if the vote failed for
their favorite candidate, I would get their votes. This meant on paper
we had it locked in. One of the councilman who should have voted for me
d i dn ' t--Anne had worked on his campaign — because he didn't believe it
cou 1 d happen .
My senior partner in our CPA firm — an old, reactionary
Re pub 1 ican-~ was getting ready to go to lunch when I sat down to
explain to him what was going on j that the council was about to meet in
executive session to determine who was going to get the appointment. I
told him it was a long shot, but that he ought to know that if I was
appointed, I was going to accept.
The other thing that worked in my favor was that Mayor
[Clifford] Rishell had to leave town to go back east to a conference,
and the city payroll was due. There was nobody to sign the payroll . So
they were right up against it, and I think it was the Friday before the
primaries, something like that. So it was by written secret ballot,
after the city attorney in executive session read the charter to them,
to their astonishment, there they were with their candidate down the
tubes. And, of course, we didn't know — this was a case of whether their
political word was worth anything, because these were Republicans, you
k n ow .
It held. I got six votes. Rishell voted for somebody else, the
guy who should have voted for me abstained [Bob Osbornel, and the ninth
person voted for somebody else. So I got six of the nine votes. Our CPA
office was right there, at 14th and Broadway—so our watcher just
walked across the 1 ittle park there, and came over and got me — I was
sitting in my office without lunch. I walked across the street, was
sworn in, and when mx partner came back from lunch, I was already the
auditor-controller, and he'd lost a partner. (A footnote: the 'watcher'
who came for me, also had managed to purloin the ballot papers and gave
them to me . I kept them for years as a memento, but finally threw them
out . )
My chief deputy had been in city service longer than I'd been
al i ve , and that was kind of traumatic.
Mor r i s : Were there some new ideas in accounting that you thought could
be applied to public administration and politics, or was it the other
Huf f ; I don't know that I'd call them new ideas, except that the
city was behind the times, let's put it that way. Under my leadership,
we were awarded the certificate of conformance from the Municipal
Finance Officers' Association of the United States and Canada. You had
to meet certain standards for the annual report. The city had never
even tried, as a matter of fact, and after I left they lost the
certificate because they didn't get the report out on time.
It was a question of meeting national accounting standards set
for municipalities, and also the timeliness of the report, the
formatting of it, and a lot of different things. I learned a lot at the
city. I only had a staff of about forty-five. Everybody had been in
their slots since the year one. All divisions were small, and the
division chiefs each had their little fiefdoms — it was pretty tough to
break it. I worked on it the soft way for a long time, and then one day
I just announced that I was going to rotate division chiefs. I thought
the City Hall was going to crack right open. One of my great
experiences — a few months after that — a division chief was in
explaining a problem and giving his perspective as to the solution.
Suddenly there was this silence, he was looking down at the rug, and he
finally looked up at me, and he had a kind of haunted look in his eyes.
He said, "You know, if I were still in the other position, I would have
given a totally different recommendation!" He suddenly understood what
it was all about in terms of a change in perspective.
Mor r i s ; What was it that you hoped to accompl i sh when you took on
being treasurer of the state Democratic committee?
Huff ; It really wasn't any lofty thing. The position had always been
held by a finance type of person, you know, moneybags, so it had always
been kind of a titular thing. And there were very poor reports, or
none. So one objective was that I thought that the committee members
were entitled to a formal, written report on the financial
condition — that was one innovation.
The other sort of just evolved. We had the pledges from the
various counties to try to contribute each month toward the overhead,
the rent, and minimum staff. This was in lieu of relying on one or two
heavy angels — big time business types — which gave the operation much
more stability and continuity, and made it less subject to special
interests. By prudent management we did something — I hadn't thought of
it as a deliberate goal at the time --we developed a credit rating. We
had cr ed i t--
Morr i s; C laughs]
Huff ; Well, that's just like having working capital.
Mor r i s ; That means you can got to the bank and get a loan?
Huff ; Not so much a loan at the bank, but with printers, and we
could actually order work without paying for it up front. Well, the old
game before and since has always been cash on the barrelhead, because
political organizations don't pay their bills.
Mor r i s : I thought it was the rule in politics.
Huf f : It is the rule. That's the only exception I know. We actually,
because of a long period of paying our bills, gradually developed a
credit status — which was destroyed [later] in a matter of months.
Because nobody else ever really cared, and they just manipulated things
by not paying bills. It's a very fragile plant [credit] that has to be
nourished all the time.
Mor r i s : How regular were the county organizations in paying their
p 1 edges?
Huff ; Irregular, well , some of them were regular. But there were
enough of them, and the allotment in gross was more than we needed, so
that if s. third, or forty percent of them came through, we could squeak
by. And enough would come through erratically. You know, you'd hear
! from some place up in the boonies that you hadn't heard from for a
• while — [they] would come in with some money.
Mor r i s ; Would they make up past payments, or would they just send
.whatever the y had in the —
Huf f : No, they'd just send whatever they could. Some might make it
bu t a smal 1 —
Nobody took i t as a committment, that every month we have to
A few did. They were the exceptions. But there were some real
eager-beavers. Of course, that might last for a while, and that
would burn out when the people changed. That's the price of
v o 1 u n t e e r i sm .
State Party Organization. North and South
Mor r i s; How about southern California? Roger [Kent] seems to have been
worried about —
Huf f ; That was a different ball game down there. Different brand of
politics, different ambience, everything. Northern California sort of
belonged to itself, and southern California was--we always considered
it a political jungle. And I think the difference was that the L i bby
Gatovs, the Kents, the Dempseys, and everybod> they weren't out for
anything. They weren't seeking something for themselves. They didn't
want power, or ambition, or position, they were just workers in the
vineyards. Down south everyone was maneuvering for power and position.
It was just the name of the game.
I can still remember Jesse Unruh when he was speaker of the
Assembly attending an executive committee meeting of the state central
committee and fighting as hard a battle for votes as to where the next
meeting was going to be as he did for major bills in the Assembly. He
just had to win everything. Winning was the name of the game, at any
Morris: Well, he was the most visible person from the legislature at
that point. How about southern California party chairmen?
Huf f : It would depend on who it was, and of course — well, let's see.
Bill Munnell had it once, and he was a legislator. Legislators made
poor party officials: they didn't have the time, their scenarios were
different, and they had entanglements and committments that got in the
wax. They just were not the right people. Liz Snyder , to this day, I
have alwa>s thought she was one of our better cha i r men --and of course
she went back to the early days, back be -fore the party really had
developed any strength. But she was kind o-f an exception. I always-
thought those southern people were a motley sort.
Morr i s ; Was there an equivalent to the 212 gang in southern
Cal i f or n i a?
Huf_f ; No, there was never the same operation. They didn't have that
continuity. There was the whole cross-filing problem, and that goes
back to Hiram Johnson [governor, 1911-173, that practically insured
that there would be no strong party system. It just was subversive to
that. One of the real strengths for northern California was the fact
that we had--pre-one man, one vote--had all these senators up in the
boonies. You know the State Constitution said that in dividing up the
forty senators each must represent a county, but in the case of the
smaller counties a senator could represent up to three counties,
regardless of population. So as you divided all these boony counties
up, we in northern California had senators • com i ng out our ears, while
Los Angeles had but one senator.
It wasn't right, but the politics of it was that, through the
special election process, whenever some opening came along, you threw
all your workers and all your money in there. Gradually, one by one, we
would win these seats in the assembly and in the senate, but the key
was the senate. Pretty soon you had it. You could hold it, and they
were not beholden the same way.
You know, the Stan Arnolds, the Joe Rattigans, the Uirgil
0 'Sul 1 i vans, the George Miller, Jrs., and the Steve Teales. They were
kind of the key -five; they had their own way of playing the game. I
remember AB 80--
Morr i s ; They were the result of your special election work?--or were
Huf f : Some of them were. George Miller [father of the present Contra
Costa Congressman] preceeded it, but Stan Arnold was one of the
products of it. Arnold was head of the alphabet, when you called the
rol 1 . So al 1 Arnold had to do was know how to vote, and al 1 anybody
else had to do was watch Arnold, and they knew where to go.
Working with the Legislature
Morr i s ; This was in a state committee meeting?
Huf f ; No, the state legislature, we're in the legislature now, down
to real produc t i ve--
Mor r i s : Down to p r odu c t i v e --
Huf f ; That's right. I ran into that buzz saw on AB 80 [property tax
assessment reform], trying to sell a bill on behalf of Pat Brown
[governor, 1959-67]. These five guys would sit around and decide who
had the least interest in the bill, and that was the one that would be
assigned to be their spokesperson. It made it very difficult to get at
them, because any time we wanted to talk about AB 30 we always ended up
talking to 0' Sullivan. He didn't know two-bits about the bill, he
didn't care anything about it, and anything you said was just like
talking to the wall. They were just tough to crack when they played
that game. It was great when it was for you, but it was tough when it
was aga i ns t you .
Mor r i s : Particularly if you'd wor k e d w i t h t h em on both sides.
Huff : Right.
Morr i s ; So once you'd worked out the strategy, and started picking up
Democrats in the special elections, then those duly elected senators
would become the basis for a local organization?
Huf f ; Yes and no. It varied, depending on the district. Again,
whenever you won, things tended to become more personal than
organizational, which is just part of the price you pay. Suddenly it
isn't just the organization per se . it's that guy's organza t ion. We ran
u p against it i n Ge or ge P . Miller [ U . S . Re p . ( D > 3th C . D . — no r e 1 a t i on t o
State Senator George Miller, Jr. or current Congressman George Miller,
III], who got into Congress on Roosevelt's coatt; Is in ''44 — had to go
out and buy a new suit in order to run; he was a pretty darn good
liberal . By the time he retired in his 80s he was a crotchety old
character, but powerful. He had the space committee, and had all the
Iwrong positions [hawk] on the Viet Nam War — this type of thing. My wife
: and he had an exchange of letters that was red hot. He was just as
virulent as she was.
Morr i s; The fact that you had been workers for him since his first
campaigns didn't cut any ice?
Huff : Not by then. Well, because — that's the other thing that
happened — especially with a congressman, from the day you got elected
you started to get more and more removed from your constituency. I
remember a Republican, Johnny Allen, coming back after being defeated.
He was just scared to walk down the street, because he'd been in
communication with all these people all these years, but didn't know
sanybody. Theoretically he knew everybody, but he really didn't know
anybody. I remember him verbal izing that concern about coming home.
And, of course, a lot of them never come home. They stay in Washington
and become lobbyists — this type of thing.
Mor r i s ; Did the group of you working with Roger [Kent] do any work on
who ought to be the candidate in the special elections?
Huff i Sure. That's again, part of what Van [Dempsey] would be doing
out there. He always had people in his hip pocket ready to pop up.
That's what he loved to do, and the judgment factor in picking those
people, I think, was as important as anything else.
Morr i s ; Were they necessarily already active in Democratic party
politics in their d i s t r i c t s ?
Huf f ; Not necessarily. Of course [Richard] Graves, on a statewide
basis, was the spectacular example — he had to change registration in
order to run for governor on the Democratic ticket . He had no
political background, because he was the executive director of the
League of Cal ifornia Cities. You know, he had his own brand of
politics, but he'd never been involved in partisan politics. In
hindsight, I'm not sure he was a good selection, for a lot of reasons.
Unw i n n ab 1 e Elections
Mor r i s : Graves said that it was the greatest thing that ever happened
in the world, in terms of his personal 1 i f e , it was time to get out of
what he was doing.
Huff : Right.
Morr i s : What better way than to lose a political campaign?
Hutf: But he didn't have any real grounding, in terms o-f partisan
pel i tics.
Morr i s : He's wondered whether or not he was talked into running
because Pat Brown decided that the election was not winnable that year.
Hu-f f : I think that was a major consideration, sure.
Morr i s ; So would there be times when the people in the deciding group
would say, we're not going to work very hard -for this. We're going to,
Hu-f -f ; I assure you there was almost every condition in terms o-f the
local races. But one o-f the basic rules that you 1 earn--they ' re
learning in Illinois now, and down in Orange County-- is, always have a
viable candidate. Never be caught o-ff base. This whole LaRouche thing
is just crazy. Even i -f you're -fighting a lost cause, you should be
running the best candidates you can -find, and talk into going.
It's the 'dripping water on the stone' principle, and the
'moss doesn't grow on a rolling stone' principle. You know, we worked
in the 15th assembly district. We ran some candidates that weren't the
greatest, but they were the best we could -find. They broke their picks.
It wasn't until Petris came along that we won-- and that was a
combination o-f a good candidate plus incumbent Luther Lincoln not
runn i ng--
Morr i s : There had been reappor t i onmen t , redist Meting, there at that
Hu-f -f ; Fi-fty--no, reappor t i onmen t had been back in '52 [controlled by
the Republicans], this was '58. But we'd been beating at him, and I
guess he'd just decided he'd had enough. So it all went together. The
[Goodwin] Kn i gh t-[W i 1 1 i am] Kn owl and switch lined everything up. No one
•fully realized it at the time, because you can't put all that together-
Morr i s : That seems to be kind o-f the message that you were trying to
develop, and Roger [Kent] was trying to develop, that you've got to
have some continuity.
Hu-f -f ; Continuity. You've got to have a door open, and a presence,
and stability, and resources that you can tap, and bring in shock
troops on a -fast basis. It works.
Morr i s ; How much time did this take? Here you were with a responsible
job in Oakland, and you're still active in district politics, and at
the state c omm i 1 1 e e level.
Huff ; It was worse than that. When I stood in that graduating -field
[Edwards] in Berkeley in '49, I was working -full time, 40 to 50 hours a
week, going to school -full time, and active in politics, and had two
kids. I was pretty close to the ragged edge. I don't think I could have
tolerated another day.
Fam i 1 y I ssues
Hu-f -f ; Well, my adult children will tell you that they were neglected
by their -father. It's true, you know, they didn't get the same kind o-f
attention. In retrospect, I think I'd have been a di-f-ferent kind of
Morr i s : I see in some o-f those pictures some — look like — ten year old
little boys, at some o-f the ceremonial meetings.
Hu-f i ; The older one, the one that you saw the picture o-f, he's the
closest to being any kind o-f political activist. He [son Roger] and his
wife [Kathy] contributed to the [Harold] Washington -for Mayor campaign
in Chicago, and also when he ran -for congress in Hyde Park. Roger's
•first "'hands-on-' political experience was on an Antioch [College] co-op
job [co-operative work program: part time spent on campus, part time
spent on a job in one's -field] working -for Sen. Petris in one o-f his
c amp a i gns .
horr i s : So he went to Antioch, 1 ike his -father?
Hu-f -f ; Yes, he's an Antioch graduate, and so is his wife, Kathy. He
got his law degree at the University o-f Chicago. I think his work tor
Petris had some in-fluence on his becoming a lawyer. He had originally
planned to be an actuary. A New York co-op job got him out o-f that. He
didn't like the ethics o-f the actuarial profession.
Nor r i s : That's interesting.
Huff ; He had this job in New York, and also the advantage of knowing
a friend of the family who was with another actuarial firm in New York,
and was able to compare the two, and came to the conclusion that it
w a s n ' t f o r him.
Morr i s : Does this mean that you were in the office in San Francisco
once a month, once a week?
Hu f f : It would depend on the season. A lot of the time it was
weekends. Sometimes it was at night, during the week, depending on the
Dollars for Democrats campaign going on, why you'd scratch over there
as soon as you could. Sometimes it was late hours.
III. PARTY POLITICS RISE AND FALL
The Ken n e dy Election
Huff ; I always forget that we have to take ourselves back to before
the time Kennedy was a national figure. From this perspective it's hard
to remember. But at that time he was a young senator with no
legislative record to speak of, a father with a dubious Democratic
political past, to say the least — he'd attained his wealth from bootleg
1 i quor , and all that .
Senator Kennedy had been out here after the '56 convention at
a major fund raiser, and his speech was an absolute flop. He was not
prepared, it didn't go over, and everybody was muttering about it. So
there was all that, plus the fact that there — let's see, it had to be
at least Symington, Humphrey, Johnson, Kennedy, Stevenson and a couple
of other miscellaneous —
Horr i s ; Was Kefauver still in the picture?
Huf f ; He may have been talked about, but he wasn't viable. At that
point there wasn't any front runner, there wasn't anybody who really
jumped out as a recognizable national candidate. Plus the Catholic
i s s u e —
Morr i s: Was that particularly strong in San Francisco?
Huff ; I don't know whether it was strong as far as the merits of the
problem. I think it was a concern because of just trying to noodle the
politics of it. Is this going to become a political liability that you
can't override? That really wasn't resolved until the Texas ministers
confrontation by Kennedy, well into the campaign.
Morr i s: So what you're saying, is that in '59, from California's point
of view, he didn't really look yet like a seasoned, national candidate.
Huf f : Right. Plus we had our own internal political problems, and
the question as to whether we wanted to have a "-favorite son" candidate
hadn't been resolved — which would have been Pat Brown, of course. Then,
as the thing emerged, what really happened-- i n those days, delegations
were selected on a very controlled basis, and normally they were
selected to support whoever the candidate--. As a matter o-f -fact, Brown
was our "-favor i te son" , and normal ly it would have been 100X Brown
supporters. But this delegation was very care-fully selected and
balanced, so that every candidate that had any potential of coming into
the state had a fair representation, and wouldn't come into the state.
The whole purpose was to keep all the candidates out, and to prevent a
blood bath that would tear the party up.
Morr i s ; In the primary.
Huf f ; Yes, and as a result you had a delegation you couldn't
control. But it was selected purposely to do that.
Morr i s ! To not be able to control it?
Huf f : Yes.
Morr i s ; Now that doesn't sound logical . I thought the idea was to
control the delegation.
Huff ; I know. Normally it is. I don't know of any precedent for this
kind of an operation. And Brown got a bum rap because he couldn't
control a delegation that his people had selected purposely to
accomplish a specific objective.
Morr i s : It was Pat Brown's idea, rather than Roger Kent's, or Don
Huff ; No, no, not Pat Brown's idea, he was just a figurehead. No it
was Roger, Don, Libby and the other leadership people. That was a
strategic move, and very important to the pol itical well being of the
par ty in Cal i f orn i a .
M o r r i s ; So that at that point the concern was more party internal
tensions, rather than backing a winner in the national —
Huff : Right, because nobody knew who the winner was going to be, and
nobody was really prepared for that. That was the whole approach. But
going in, when we finally got to Los Angeles [site of the '60
convention], of course all the Brown people were for Kennedy. Oh,
Stevenson was in the act too, I forgot about that. I still remember
Eleanor [Roosevelt] standing up there with her as a UN ambassador, she
was somewhat constrained, and was supposed to be non-par t i san — big
Stevenson button, as she spoke before the convention [laughs],
Morr i s ; How was the delegation put together? Was that put together by
the state central c omm i 1 1 e e ?
Huf f ; No, no, there's a tight little organizing commit tee, approved
by the candidate, that puts it together. In fact, I don't even remember
who was i nvol ved .
Morr i s ; Regardless of the local district caucuses, and things like
Huff s We 1 1 , see that all --I'm trying to go back to '60 now. Its
emerged a lot differently in later years. At that time, I think it was
split. I think there were some that were locally selected, and then
some that were selected by the committee. I think it was a two-way
deal . I just don't remember the specifics of the mechanics. They keep
playing around with it every four years, and it's hard to keep track.
I'm not sure they've ever improved the system.
Nor r i s ; Later on I'd 1 ike to ask you about the "McGovern reforms," and
whether you could see them coming, or whether they came as a big
surprise, the move -for
H_u_f_f : I wasn't deeply involved then, so I wasn't in any inside — I'd
just say, in retrospect, they haven't proven to be the great
breakthrough that they were touted to be at the time.
Mprr i s i Back in 1960, were the people that were making the
recommendations -for who should be delegates concerned about minor ~=,
and women, and ethnics, and —
Hut't' ! Oh, yes, there's always been an attempt to provide that kind
of balance. That's been going on -for almost as long as I can remember.
Of course you had what I call the phoney balancing o-f the women in the
law, where the state central committee had to be f i i ty-f i f ty . That goes
way back. That was more pro forma, because a lot of times the regular
member would be a -female spouse, and the alternate would be the
husband, and the husband would be the real political power. It was
always put together to comply with the law, not the spirit o-f it.
Morr i s ; Didn't women protest that?
Hu-f -f ; Well, as it emerged over time, they became a little more
assertive, but this goes way back be-fore there was such a thing as a
woman's issue. We're going back into the '40s, it was be -fore that.
Morr i s : That's interesting that you say it that way, because what you
told me last time we talked was that your wi-fe was the one that -first
Huff ; Yes, but that's an individual situation, that wasn't the
pattern o-f this thing. Yes, she was the bona -f i de member, because o-f
her own activities. And there was a lot o-f that, but there was also the
pro -forma type. So it was a mix. That's how Liz Snyder emerged, because
she was a bona -f i de political operator, and the mechanism permitted
that. But it was a mixed bag, it had both.
Morr i s ; And a surprise when a woman turned out to have competence, and
ideas on her own?
Hu-f f ; Well, I don't know that it was a surprise, but she just
•floated to the top on her own merits.
Morr i s ; In spite o-f the -fact that she had some murky connections.
Hu-f -f : Yes. I can't remember what they were. It was always her
husband , I think.
Morr i s ! Her husband [Nate], and whether or not he had close ties with
[William] Bonelli [member, State Board o-f Equalization], just at the
point when he was leaving the state under indictment [-fled to Mexico
and died there ] .
Adlai Stevenson and the California Democratic Party
Morr i s ; Since we started with '59, and Kennedy, could we go back a
little bit, and talk about how you got involved in the California
Democratic Council [CDC]? You said you were at Asilomar [the conference
center at Pacific Grove where the CDC founding convention was held in
early 1953] —
Huff ; I was a scribe. That's about the lowest form of honor — you
TooF notes, was what it amounted to. I guess the real generative factor
was the total shock of losing in '52. The thing that sticks in my mind
after the shock was in December of '52, not too long before Christmas.
On a very foody night people made a pilgrimage, an actual pilgrimage,
out to Diablo Junior College [Contra Costa County] — it wasn't easy to
qe t there, it was a narrow road with bad visibilit> to hear Wayne
Morris CU. S. Senator, Oregon (Independent)]. People just showed up
from everywhere. It turned into a political wake. It was a very
emo t i on a 1 experience f or e v e r yon e there.
At that time, it was the Democratic party under George Miller,
Jr. [state senator] — unrelated to George P., but the father of the
present congressman — and Alan Cranston. George, Jr. and Don had always
been close --that goes way back. They were the prime movers to try to
establish some kind of grassroots base operation. There had been a
precedent of sorts on the Republican side. They called it the
California Republican Assembly, and it was an endorsing mechanism to
get around the law about the parties supposedly, not endorsing in the
pr i mar y .
Of course the Hiram Johnson reforms, back in 1910-12, all
really destroyed any party strength in California, with cr oss-f i 1 i no,
and all that. So this was a way to try to get around the defects in the
law. Plus that defeat was the real push --everybody felt guilty that
they didn't do enough, the whole works.
Morr i s; There sounds like a crusading element. Uhat was it that
motivated all of you to put in that much time?
Huf f ; Stevenson was a very inspiring person in terms of where he was
coming from and how he --see, he brought political campaigning to a
level that — my personal conviction is — no other candidate for president
had ever done. I'd block out Kennedy, Roosevelt, everybody. I'm not
sure that Stevenson would have made a good president, but he inspired
peop 1 e .
Morr i s ! In terms of his view of government, or in terms of how you
organ ize a political--
Huff ; He didn't really relate to political organizations,
particularly. No, he inspired people in terms of what the public
interest was all about, and politics was all about, and it's primacy in
our whole society. Just brought it to a level that I don't think
anybody else has ever done.
My view of Stevenson is that he contributed more to the
country running for president twice, than Eisenhower did serving eight
Morr i s i And those ideas contributed to your spending your 1 ifetime in
pol i t i cal --
Huff : Yes, it's helped, it was a driving force. Because it was a
sense of ideal ism that you just don't see very often. Pol itics gets to
be pretty humdrum, workada> —
Morr i s; It's a lot of hard work, the day-to-da>
Huff ; Yes, a lot of p i ck-and-shove 1 type stuff, and you need the
i nsp i rat i on .
Morr i s : But it took six years to get the organizing conference put
Huff ; No, '53, January '53, it happened--we 1 1 , let's see, early '53
anyway. It may not have been January — that sounds a little fast for
As i 1 omar . I don't recal 1 --I 'm not very good on the dates — the first
real endorsing convention was in time for the '54 election, and I'm not
quite sure what the timing was.
Morr i s ! Okay, I just got the dates wrong. Some people said that
Cranston helped organize CDC so that in turn they would endorse him for
statewide office. Is there legitimacy to that?
Huff ; I'm not sure what the accurate answer is. I don't really know.
I can just give you my impression. I'm sure his motives included his
own desires. His focus has always been -foreign policy, so his ultimate
ambition was to be a U. S. senator. The tact that he ended up running
for controller was really kind of a fluke. I guess it was the only
thing around and available — this type of th i ng--because he certainly
wasn't qualified to be controller.
Morr i s ; I remember thinking at the time that it was odd that somebody
that I knew of as haying foreign policy ideas--
Huf f : It was a joke at the time that he campaigned — he's a very poor
speaker, you know, and his style is stilted. He's improved over the
years, but in those days he was not what I would call a good speaker.
And when he went out to make a campaign speech for controller, the
first couple of sentences dealt with being controller, and before ybu
knew it, he was talking foreign pol icy!
Morr i s; That's interesting, because in the '50s you don't think of
people having the kind of career path plans that you read about now in
the daily papers--that everybody must have a career plan.
The CDC took a lot of time discussing and putting out
positions on foreign policy matters too, didn't it?
Huf f ; Oh, yes. Both national and foreign. We always used to laugh
about the different types of people: the Nancy S losses [212 gang
member, Pat Brown appointments secretary, now a documentary film
producer based in Washington, DC], and people like that, always
described themselves as "issues oriented"; and then there were others
of us who, although we were interested in the issues, we weren't
fanatics on the subject, and we were more "nuts and bolts" type people.
My role was very mundane, I was a trustee of the council . There were
two trustees, or three trustees. Dick Nevins [member, State Board of
Equal i zat i on ] --no , he wasn't a trustee — we were both credentials
committee chairmen [Dick south, myself north], that's where our paths
crossed. But my service as trustee was kind of a ministerial job that
oversaw the financing end of it, and the job was not what I would call
Morr i s ! Less burdensome than being treasurer of the state committee?
Huf f ; Oh, yes. Trustee was sort of an oversight position, and
treasurer was — the way I functioned — it was a working position. The
traditional way the treasurer functioned was as an oversight person, a
fund raising type of person.
Morris: Would you say that the CDC spent more time on issues than the
state central committee, and things like that?
Huff ; Yes, it's whole focus was on issues and endorsing candidates.
Of course this created stress and strain with incumbents. They never
really liked or appreciated the CDC. Some did. Incumbents always had
control of the state committee through the appointment process, so that
was another reason it was not a very effective group. How you maintain
the right balance of tension between incumbent office-holders and party
people,' I think, is a good quest i on--how that's brought about.
Morr i s ; The whole idea of the Democratic party is a little nebulous.
There is the state Democratic central committee, and it has an office
and a legal existence, but the state central committee does not include
all the registered voters, who may or may not turn out to work on a
campaign or send money, is that right?
Huff ; Well, the state central committee members are appointed by the
office holders, plus the county committee chairmen, but then the
executive committee is what really calls the shots, and of course the
leadership sets the agenda and steers the executive committee. The
executive committe is a large committee.
Of course it involves both state legislators, constitutional
officers, as well as, congressional incumbents. So you've got that,
another kind o-f tension. And it includes nominees, not all o-f f ice
holders, and back in the cross—filing days, a lot o-f times, there
wasn't even a nominee.
Morr i s ; Because it would be a Republican?
Hu-f f ; A Republican could have it. So then there was a mechanism to
designate who would f I 1 1 that slot. A lot of mixed games went on with
that , too .
Morr i s ; I can be 1 i eve it. The nominees are members because it's to
them that the campaign are related?
Hu_fi : Yes, but that's the way it's structured in the law. I can
remember 1946, in Al ameda County, in our congressional district, on the
November ballot, George P. Miller — the congressman who had been -first
elected on FDR's coattails in '44 — was the only Democrat we got to vote
•for in the general election.
Morr i s; That's right, because Warren had won on both tickets in the
June pr i mar y .
Huf-f ; That's right.
Morr i s; So there just wasn't anybody in the governor's slot.
Hu-f -f ; The thing was wiped out, that's right.
Morr i s ; That must have been a very strange sensation.
Hu-f -f ; A sense o-f outrage, that the system just wasn't right. And
that kind o-f situ tat ion was a motivating -force. The whole battle for
eliminating cross-filing sustained the—that was an issue that crossed
all intra-party lines. Everybody could agree on something like that.
That was the cement that held everything together.
It's only after the party began to be successful that it
started to fall apart. Of course before that, it didn't have anything
to hold together it's kind of an evolutionary process. You build
strength and then it starts to erode on itself.
Morr i s ; This was the question I wanted to deal with next. I was really-
startled with this letter that Stephen Reinhardt [chair, Democratic
state central committee] wrote to Pat Brown in November of '64. I think
I sent you a copy of it. Although it's dated '64, and you were up in
Sacramento by then, he's talking about concerns going back two or three
years, and he's talking about tensions within the party, and what
looked to him like efforts of some personal power building, and some
people who didn't like volunteers in the party.
The reference points were Kennedy's loss in California in
I960, and then the struggle over Clair Engle's senate seat in 1964.
Huff ; That [the Engl e struggle] actually destroyed the party over
time. That was the beginning of the end. Nothing was ever right after
that. It created a d i sse n s i on an d a d i v i s i on that n e v e r r e a 1 1 y h e a 1 e d .
That s my p e r son a 1 v i ew .
Morr i s ; Were there committee meetings at the subcommittee level?
Huf f ; Yes, most of this was maneuvering behind the scenes. The whole
problem of deal ing with Clair and his wife was such a tough deal .
Morr i s ; There were those who thought he would recover from the brain
tumor , am I r i gh t?
Huf f ; Well, most of those people had their own agenda, or reason for
wanting that to happen. You know, there's al ways-- the coterie around
the incumbent. And with a US senator that's a fairly large following. I
heard recently that one of the Democratic candidates for the Board of
Equal i ration has a fairly large legislative staff that he wants to take
care of if he gets elected, and doesn't uNder stand that the number of
exempt appointments is limited to one per Board member. So I think he's
in for a rude shock if he wins. I think that's — if I can remember who
it is, there are so many candidates--! think it's somebdoy like
McAlister, or somebody like that. [It was state senator Paul B.
Carpenter who was elected in November 1986, and whose senate seat may
be lost to the Republicans in a special election still to be called to
fill the upcoming vacancy; assemblyman Alister McAlister was a
candidate for state controller who lost in the June 1986 Democrtic
pr i mar y to assembl yman Gray Dav is.]
Morr i s : Somebody who's now in the legislature?
Huf f ! Yes, one of the current legislators.
You've got the problem of the nor th-sou th relationship, and I
think I mentioned before that I felt that the real contribution that,
Kent et al made, and why things were different up north, was that there
were fewer people who were self-seeking. Roger didn't want anything, he
wasn't looking for any appointments, or elected office, or anything
like that. There are always people --and I don't think there's anything
wrong with it, I think that's what keeps it going--but in the south it
just seemed like everybody was out to cut everybody else's throat for
their own personal ends, rather than the broader look, and healthier
for the par ty .
Thoughts on Political Career Building
Huf f ; Somehow or other you've got to get your perspective in 1 ine,
and I've seen more people end up pol itically unsuccessful because in
the position they're in — which could be a non-elected office, it may be
only an appointed office—rather than make the best judgment they can
on the basis of the role they have, and do that job the best way they
know how, they constantly make decisions based on how they think it'll
affect their ability to get into the next job. And that's
contra-productive. It just doesn't work, because you don't have the
perspective to know how to deal with it until you get there. People
destroy themselves doing that.
Morr i s i Would this be people 1 ike Carmen Wars-haw, and Jesse Unruh,
around whom a lot of controversy seemd to develop?
Huff ; I don't think Carmen ever had any aspiration for office.
Morr i s ; No, but she wanted to be party chair.
Huf f ; Yes, she wanted to be a pol itical maker and shaker. She was
known in party circles as "The Dragon Lady". I never really understood
what drove hei she was a very driven person, and played pol itical
Unruh didn't have the abil ity to distinguish between what was
important and what was unimportant. To him winning was important, and
power was important, not the gradation of issues, and the fact that to
exercise power most effectively you have to be very discriminating in
doing it. If you're twisting somebody's arm on every issue, you're
going to break his arm, or it's going to get so sore he can't function.
You've qot to let up on it once in a wh i le, so that when you put the
twist on, it has a lot more impact. He didn't have the ability to do
I mentioned before, I saw him fight as hard over the issue in
executive committee of the state central committee as to where the next
meeting was going to be, as over a major political issue on the floor
of the assembly. It didn't make any sense.
Morr i s: When did he begin to put a lot of effort into the legislature
itself raising money, and did that then have a bearing on how easily
the party could raise money, in terms of the state central committee"
Huff ; The state central committee was never good at raising money,
and he was in a natural position to raise money. The money he raised,
though — the sources were totally different than those that would
normally flow to the party. He was dealing primarily with lobbyists and
those who had a specific interest in the outcome of legislation. So it
was kind of a different world.
And of course, in those days, campaigns weren't that
expensive, and a few dollars went a long way. It wasn't that difficult
to put it all together. But he used to state that it didn't matter who
contributed what, didn't affect his vote. He used to ridicule people
that would assert that, and I think he's a phoney on that subject.
People who contribute get attention, and they get access, and they have
the opportunity to present their side of the case, and their facts.
That's influence anyway you cut it. And it works.
Morr i s ; Did you, and Roger, and Don, and other members of the '212
gang" have any discussions about what the implication was going to be
of the legislative caucus developing from campaign funds and
ac t i v i ties'?
Huf f ; I don't know that we had focused strategy meetings on what to
do about it, but I think there was a lot of grumbl ing about how
helpless we were in the face of that kind of activity. Northern
political activists, other than legislators and their immediate
supporters, I think, were not typically in tune with the Unruh type
approach to politics, and his general goals and ends. Unruh never came
through as anybody with any great standards, or high ethics, or
anything very inspiring — as far as I was concerned.
Morr i s: You mentioned that in 1960 Pat Brown's "favorite son"
delegation, or Pat Brown himself, worked for Kennedy's nomination.
Unruh was also involved in —
Huf f ; On a personal basis. He had his own connection through Bobby
[Kennedy]--! think it was primarily through Bobby--to Jack Kennedy
himself. But that wasn't a party thing. He was paddl ing his own canoe.
Morr i s : In terms of the Kennedy campaign in Cal ifornia, or was it
other parts of the country?
Huff ; I can't say definitively. I think just in terms of his own
perception as a power broker, basically.
Morr i s ; What about [Steve] Re i nhardt ' s concern about Kennedy losing in
Cal ifornia? If Unruh and Brown, the two major power sources, were both
for h i m —
Huf f ! But they weren't for each other, [laughs] Well, I don't think
the Kennedy loss in '60 — those things generally emerge as bigger than
the pushing and shoving of the party workers. The party effort is
marginal at best, you know, and it may shove it a 1 ittle bit one way or
the other--. This was Nixon's state, he was a home grown character for
better or for worse, and I don't know what kind of impact that had.
There were so many variables. You've got the valley, which we
call the 'Bible Belt', because of all the migration from Oklahoma and
other parts of the mid-west and from the south, and I'm sure that area,
was a hotbed of an t i -Kennedy i sm because he was a Catholic. I don't know
that anyone ever analyzed it definitively, but that was one variable.
The economic situation is always a piece of it. There's just a lot of
intangibles that drive people that are sometimes very easy to see after
the fact, but you can't see when you r e in the middle of it.
Morr i s ; Could you explain a little more what you said about the party-
effort as marginal at best?
Huff : Well, I think that's kind of axiomatic, that the number of
people who are politically active compared to the number of voters i=
relatively small. There isn't that much impact. In the first place,
there isn't that much actual action, and then the action i s--as far as
ef fee t i veness--d i m i n i shed in terms of how many people are turned around
as to how they will vote. It's just like a newspaper endorsement. I
think a newspaper endorsement used to be a big deal , but these days
it's only a marginal factor, also. I don't think there are that many
people that are swayed to change their votes because of a newspaper
endorsement. If they follow the endorsement, they were already incl i ned
to follow whatever position that paper took.
Morr i s ; They were already inclined in that direction.
Huf f : Yes. Then there's the whole question of getting out the vote.
It's not good enough that everybody's sitting at home ready to do the
right thing. If they don't get to the polling place—we don't have
patronage in this state — that's the glue that normally makes for good
precinct operations. There's somebody out there doing it that has a
direct financial interest in the outcome.
Ray Sullivan, from City Hall ['San Franc i sco] —he used to be up
here, I think we mentioned Ray [former member of the Legislative
Analyst's staff and former Ways and Means staffer when Willie Brown was
chair]. He was back in Chicago on a publ i c works project — this is
within the last couple of years — and he's going around with this big
shot from Chicago public works, on various objectives in terms of his
trip. He actually was there and saw city workers collecting their
paychecks at precinct headquar ters— that ' s where they went to get their
checks, their city checks!
Morr i s ; That sounds like the old Tammany Hall days.
Huff; This is in our time, you know. We can't even relate to that
out here. Something like that is —
Morr i s: In a situation like that the bookkeeping turns out a check —
Huff : I don't know how it happens, except that I understand the way
the general set up is, that most party functionaries — precinct
captains, and this type of thing — also hold city jobs. So there's that
linkage, and somehow or other they manage to remind everybody when they
pick up their check where that job's coming from.
Morr i s ; Well , every now and then you run into somebody who says that
it's an honor and a privilege to be able to put money into so-and-so's
party campaign, because that's how democracy works. Does that motivate
many peop 1 e?
Huff ; I don't think so, no.
Morr i s; Were there some special "get out the vote" strategies that
Huf f ; Oh, yes. Somebody usually had a grand scheme, and it always
looked good on paper, but you didn't have enough money to make it work
usually, and something that's dependent totally on volunteer effort is
sporadic at best. It's no stronger than the volunteer who fails to
follow thouah, or doesn't call the people to get other volunteers, or
whatever. And those people are no better than the ones who say they're
going to do something and then don't do it.
Morn i s ; But one would think, that by the time somebody arrives at the
ley el of being on the state central committee, or county chairman, that
they knew this is what it took to get —
Hut f ; Doesn't work that way. They get there through a lot o-f
different routes, not necessarily through working in the party. When we
1 ived down in Oakland where we -first moved to when we came to
Cal ifornia, my wi-fe had that precinct locked up, nailed tight. She knew
everybody in the precinct that was a Democrat, and she went out and
hustled them to the polls on election day, and the whole thing. But
that was not typical . And later when we moved we never got the new
precinct as organized as well as the -first time, but she was especially
motivated the -first time, and by golly she did it.
Morr i s ; Had she learned this on the job, as it were, or had she been
i n —
Hu-f -f ; She'd never really been politically active be -fore.
Party Divisions Begin, 1964
Morr i s ! So when did the volunteers begin — you know, the sense I get is
that you came in on a wave o-f volunteers with inspiration and
dedication that carried the CDC and the Democratic party along -freely
and strong 1 y .
Hu-f -f : For quite a while, and then it all started to fall apart. I
think the real beginning o-f the end was the Clair Engle problem. If you
really looked back, and tried to track it and analyze it, everything
that had been held together, and a fairly unified approach to
everything up "til then--it became di;. E-ive after that.
Engle was a special breed of cat all his own. He was a free
wheeling, kind of inspiring individual. Colorful language, oh God.
Morr i s ; He had been part of this party building effort, hadn't he? And
he had shared office space with the party, and with the Democratic
counc i 1 ?
Huf f ; Right. And he was a classic case of somebody coming from the
'boonies' to win a statewide office for the U.S. Senate. That was just
an incredible thing.
Morr i s ; He was the one — he and his wife used to fly their own plane
ar ou n d c amp a i gn i n g .
Huff : Right. As a matter of fact, I got brought back from the '60
convention in LA to Oakland. Clair flew Uan Dempsey and me back, and I
remember he just putted down, and only cut one engine, and we piled
out, and he took off again. There were just three of us, I don't know
where his wife was at that point.
Had he been a flyer during World War II?
I don't know. I suppose he was.
I don't either. Did Roger have a personal friendship with--
Huf f ; Yes, there was a very close personal bond there.
Morr i s : I've heard a lot abou t— Unruh ' s said this, and Pat Brown said
it—about Engle's illness. I don't know that anybody has commented, and
I don't think Roger did in his oral history, as to what he thought was
the thing to do when Engle became so ill .
Hu-ff: I don't know anything definitive. I know there was a lot of
agonizing going on.
Morr i s: But isn't it the kind of thing that the state central
committee, or at least its executive committee, i f they see a situation
developing would say, these are some of the things you should take a
H_uf_f : An issue like that never really gets on the table. It's
back-room kind o-f business. It's very difficult to bring that one up.
That was the real problem, because there was always the doubt — who had
the definitive medical knowledge as to whether this was recoverable, or
not? If it was recoverable, why nobody in the world wanted to
jeopardize the situation.
Morr i s : There was a brief recorded message from Engle that was
broadcast at a CDC convention.
Huff ; That wasn't good.
Morr i s ; I don't know that I've heard the tape, but I've seen the
transcr i p t of it.
Huff ; Wasn't very coherent.
Nor r i s ; It was really heart-breaking, even if you didn't know Engle.
Huf f : Well, I think that was kind of the beginning of the end,
because up until that time there'd been a pretty good cover-up.
Morr i s ; Well, I guess that's in the area of speculation, but it's
really striking that a situation like that can leave difficulties that
icon t i nue .
Huff : Real scars.
Morr i s ; Would it have been different if Pierre Salinger had not come
upon the scene and decided to run?
Huf f ; I doubt it, but I think he detracted and helped embitter the
situation. Because at that point he was an out lander, pure and simple,
and politically that's the way he ended up as being seen. The problem
was, I think, Don's judgment in this thing — I think Don was the driving
force. I don't know that, but that's just my guess. They were very
close, and he saw this as an opportunity to move in with somebody that
he had direct, close rapport with. I just don't think that he was in a
position to make the best political judgment on that.
Morr i s ; Don?
Huff : Don, yes. You see Don and Cranston never got along too well .
They were kind of oil and water. I don't think Roger and Alan got along
that well, either. I think all of the niceties were observed. I don't
i think there was anything overt that was negative, but Cranston just
wasn't Roger's type. Roger was a very loose, open person, and Alan
always had his own agenda and, in my view, has always been first and
foremost, a self-seeker, and always played his cards fairly close to
jhis vest. He's a very frustrating person to deal with. You know, he has
this reputation of being a great vote-counter, which he is, in the
senate. He goes around and tallies up the votes. But you try to find
out where he is on something, and he's just all over the place. He's
very evasive — you can't pin him down. He's the last person to allow his
vote to be tallied. A strange kind of situation. I can't help but
wonder if the motivating force behind his vote tallying efforts is to
determine which way the wind is blowing in order to determine his own
vote. I don't mean to imply that this is the case on every issue,
because he does have well staked-out positions on some issues. It's
just a thought, and my own private opinion.
Morr i s ; How did that work when he was a candidate himself? Would his
campaign mesh with what the central committee was doing, when it was a
st a t ew i de th i ng?
Hu_f f : When you say, 'mesh," that assumes the state central committee
had & we 11 -organ i zed , definitive campaign as an entity itself. That
just didn't reallx occur. This is my personal view, and I'm thinking
out loud now. As a statutory structure, it was sort of a holding
mechanism rather than a power or force, and i t kept things going. When
the elections were in the offing, candidates got their own campaigns
going, and people would peel off and work the campaigns of t heir-
choice . And a lot of times they'd be the same people, but they weren't
working, per se . in the official capacity of a state committee person.
They were doing their thing for a candidate. Co-ordination among
campaigns was a sometime thing, largely dependent on the personal i tes
of the candidates and their managers.
Of course, if it's a gubernatorial campaign, the main focus
would be on the gubernatorial candidate, and most of the other-
constitutional offices would just be along for the ride. The use of the
slate mailer was a device to give the indicia of party unity, although
the prime candidate carried the main part of the cost. Other candidates
often contributed only token amounts, or even in some cases nothing at
al 1 .
Morr i s ; In terms of the central committee's planning?
Huff ; Well, just in terms of campaigning. They're raising money--you
know, it's very difficult for the lesser candidates to raise
significant amounts of money. It didn't really matter too much what
they did, but you could never tell them that! Uan tried to tell
somebody that one time — it was Bert Betts C1958 Democratic nominee for
state treasurer, swept in on the Pat Brown tide]. Uan said to Bert,
"Hey, go to Hawa i i , or do whatever you want. It doesn't matter, you're
along for the ride, just put up a pro forma front." Well, you know,
Betts was insulted, because he felt that he was important, and that
everything he did was vital to his getting elected. [Betts served two
undistinguished terms as state treasurer; his main claim to 'fame' (?)
is the court case he won on his pension rights that introduced the
escalator factor for retired elected officials that is now an
All candidates are susceptible to the ' se 1 f - i mpor tance '
disease. They may enter a race on a fluke, or just to keep a base
covered, or for some other less than substantial reason. But sooner or
later, the bug bites them, and they start taking themselves seriously.
Morr i s; I can see that, but I would also think that, even if you think
being controller is terribly important, you would think that the
candidate would realize that being governor is on a different order
than being controller.
Huf f ; Well, I think they do intellectually, but not emotionally,
because their focus is on themselves. The political realities are, that
the way the top of the ticket goes is the main thrust. There may be
minor factors that affect the situation, but that's all they are.
Let's see, [Frank] Jordan was the only [incumbent]
survivor — Secretary of State in '58 — and I'm trying to remember the
Democrat who ran against him. That was the most ignominious of al 1 , to
have a sweep, and then be the one that didn't make it. It doesn't
mat ter .
What I was thinking of was an article I just read the other
day about some professor in the mid-west who's been running a test for
a number of years with his political science classes. He holds a little
election, and he has a whole list of candidates, and he asks the
students to vote for them in their order of preference. The candidates
include actual elected officials that have odd-ball names, -foreign
sounding names, this type of thing. Then it includes some non-elected
types that have very apple-pie, 'American"' sounding names, 1 ike Gus
Hal 1 , and — the whole 1 i st of the communists. And, by golly, the
students were uninitiated, and didn't know any of these people. And all
i the communists would win in these class-held elections. The professor
has been carrying it on class after class, to prove that the name has
something to do with it, and the feel of whether i t ' s foreign or
famil i ar . That's what I was trying to reach for; Jordan is a very
plain, ordinary name, and the ticket in that year was fairly
: we 1 1 -bal anced , ethnically, and the whole works. I'm sure that whoever
. the candidate was, he was d i sadvan taged by his name.
Mor r- i s ; Even though the population includes a number of people whose
names are Polaski, and Greenberg, and names like that? They still vote
for Smith and Jones.
• Huf f ; I don't know whether they do, but there's a tendency anyway.
.But that again, is a marginal kind of thing. How these things all add
up I don't think anybody really knows scientifically.
Nor r i s ; Did the party make much use of consultants, or polls?
Huff : Back in those days? Very limited. It was just an emerging
factor in terms of the tools. It's mandatory now, but pre-'60 it was
pretty 1 i mi ted. And when they were taken, they were few and far
between. The Gallup poll, when did it start? Not only the Gallup poll,
but the California [Field] poll. I think it only goes back into the
'50s for California focussed polls. Gallup nationally goes back
farther. An Antioch classmate of mine had a co-op job as a Gallup
poll taker right about the beginning of World War II.
Of course, that existed before 'private' polling, where the
candidate actually hires his own pollster. That hasn't been going on
; f or much more than 20 years, or so.
Morr i s: Well, 1966, Reagan's first campaign for governor. They had a
private polling outfit.
j Huf f ; I think that was part of the basis of putting all that
i toge ther .
Morr i s ; Yes, they did a lot of research during the period when
Reagan, and the people who eventually became his backers, were deciding
whether or not to go for governor. Then, I have talked to people who
have said that they were already then using some form of the — not
necessarily overnight poll — but they were going out and spot-polling,
and found some things that did affect how they then developed the
camp a i gn .
Huff ; Of course, it's become so fast and so sophisticated, that
issues are changed in the middle of the campaign, or in mid-week, for
that matter. Back in those days that was unheard of. The first polling
that I recall, before I was even in California, goes back to my college
days, when one of my classmates was working for 1 think it
was--Gallup. This would be back in the early 40' s. Some of the stories
he told of how the polls were conducted didn't give me a lot of
confidence in the result, [laughs]
horr i s; You still hear about that. The alternative is — your
description of Van Dempsey, who knew people in every county, and could
do his own instinctive rendering of what was going on there. That
reminds me of Roger Kent talking about, you know, they would target
di str i c ts--al so sounds like on the basis of accumulated information of
the people involved.
Huff ; Yes, it wasn't that scientific. It was based on registration
•figures, and the -fact that everybody knew that you had to have at least
a -five or ten percent edge to be equal with a Republican [candidate].
Because the Republicans had a better voter turnout record, and things
like that. And the Democrats had a lower level of party loyalty.
Mor r i s ; How did you put volunteers to work during a campaign?
Huf_f : The tough part was getting a rel iable person to be in charge
of the volunteers. .--'Other frustrating thing was that the availability
of volunteers didn't always match the time when they were needed.
Sometimes there was a real problem keeping them busy.
Mor r i s ; What did you do in those situations?
Huf f ; Better ask Cyr [Copertini, veteran professional campaign
worker with over forty years experience in California Democratic
politics] — I don't know whether she'll admit it or not — how many times
she took a box of three by five cards out in the back room, dumped it
upside-down, and then brought it back for a volunteer to alphabetize,
to give them something to do.
Morr i s; She did indeed. She d i dn ' t tell me that she dumped it out, I
thought it was just sort of an endless task.
Huff ; That was an old technique. They [the volunteers] had to feel
like they were doing something, and making a contribution. Or, how many
times you went out and spent some money to have what we called 'snipes'
[small posters] put up. For a few hundred bucks you could snipe a bunch
of fences. And the only reason you put them up --it wasn't because they
had any great political effect — but your own workers had to feel that
something was happening. So you had to do something visible. A lot of
times the source of problems and dissensions were from your own people,
not 1 ack of work .
If you look at the '58 election, that was the peak of
[Democratic] political effectiveness in California, and all that work
surely con tr i bu ted--marg i nal 1 y . But the real reason we won was because
Kn owl and and Knight switched slots, and as a consequence we had two
wide-open places [on the ballot]. All the work in the world added to
the margin, but it didn't make the win.
Mor r i s : But you would think that the same thing would work in the
other direction. There are times--! ike the troubles over Engle's seat
led to the election of George Murphy. That's sort of a given in
politics, isn't it? That there's always something unexpected.
Huff ; Well the negatives. Like this 1986 election. This election is
Deukmejian's to lose, not Bradley 's to win. Bradley can't win this
election. Deukme j i an could do something that would make him lose it, is
what i t amounts to.
So the negatives work against you, sure. And Murphy, again,
name [identification], the movie bus i ness--wh i ch seems to be the way
we're going to create all our political candidates, now. We've had
Murphy and Reagan, and now Cl int Eastwood. I guess that's the way to
go. What a sad day.
Morr i s ! That argues against the idea of — I don't know whether it
does, necessarily — the Republicans say, is there any reason why an
actor can't have political concerns.
Huf f ; Theoretically, not. But I think it's a sad commentary, that
n ame i de n t i f i c a t i on ov err i de s an y kind of subs t an c e . Nobody can c 1 a i m
that Ronald Reagan brought any substance to anything, you know.
Morr i s ; Well, the ideas were already there. They were looking for a
Huff : Yes, well, I'm not sure how many real ideas there were.
Morr i s ; Like so many things that happened in California Democratic
politics because o-f Stevenson, the theory is that Reagan is the result
of the Goldwater campaign . Behind Goldwater there had been —
Huf-f ; Yes, I guess a case can be made -for that.
Single Issue Po 1 i t i c s
Morr i s ! The other thing, -from the political science point o-f view, is
that in the -'60s, and more so coming into the "'70s, there becomes an
• increasing number o-f s i n Q 1 e - i s s u e organizations.
Hu-f -f ; That's going to be the end o-f us, I think — single- issue
; prob 1 ems .
, Morr i s ; Were they beginning to pop up--
i Hut f ; I don't think the single- issue really became a problem
'until — kind o-f Vietnamish, is the way I would put it. The whole concept
that everything would rise or -fall on one issue. I can remember trying
! to calm my wi-fe down one time, because — and that was over Vietnam—she
had written a hot letter to George P. Miller [Congressman], and got a
hot letter back. He was chairman o-f the Space Committee at the time,
and I think served on the Armed Forces Committee, but am not sure.
A-fter I peeled her o-f the ceiling I said, you know, the world doesn't
stand or -fall on that one issue. You've got to look at the -full
picture. Here's a senior congressman (and ours to boot), who's made
contributions all over the place during the past twenty-so odd years,
and here you're trying to shoot him [down] because o-f this one issue.
That's the -first, in my own recollection, that I really started to see
the destruc t i veness o-f judciinq somebody just on one i ssue --stand or
Then this whole business, abortion, capital punishment, you
name it. These people are crazy people, you know. They -froth at the
mouth over their one issue, and it block's everything else out.
Morr i s ! How does the single issue, as developed in the last 15 years.
how did that emerge -from the old business o-f building a coalition o-f
people to go to the legislature because you wanted, you know, more
money -for the schools, or —
Hut f ; There was, I guess, a lot more give and take, a lot more
tolerance o-f where other people came -from on issues. You didn't -feel
that somebody had to go right down the line and be 1GOX on every issue.
Morris: In '65 there were serious d i -f -f er ences between the CDC
E California Democratic Council] and the central committee, because the
CDC was much more active in opposing the war in 'v'ietnam, even though
the party pi at -form had a plank saying that the war in Vietnam was not
very pr oduc t i ve .
Huft ; My theory on the Democratic party, nationally, is that the
real strength has been the diversity. I-f you talk about radicals of the
right or left, typically the Democratic Party has had kookier ones on
the right than the Republicans. And i -f you go down south, the worst of
the worst has been within the Democratic Party, and the worst radicals
of the left have been in the Democratic Party, plus everybody in
between. In the national convention process what emerges is that the
battle is really fought there trying to arrive at some kind of
consensus that these disparate groups can [agree upon ] --nobody s
satisfied but every bodx decides, well, we can live with it.
Professor Harris once put it as well as anybody. He said, the
Democratic Party is like a bunch o-f alleycats. They're always
scratching, and biting, and -fighting. But you'll notice that when they
get through, there are always more cats.
Morr i s; [laughs] This is Joe Harris, down at — [ UC , Santa Cruz]
Morr i s ; That's wonderful. And this is done at the conventions, or is
i t done i n —
Huff ; Well, at the national level the only focus is the national
convention. That's the only time we have any semblance of a national
party, really. When it works, it works, and when people take a walk,
it's very difficult. The IPP [Independent Progressive Party] in
'48 — they were all theoretically Democrats. [When] the South takes a
walk — it's pretty hard to win under those conditions.
Morr i s; Did you begin to get discouraged with some of these realities
of politics? Is that why you decided to take a Job in the state
gover nmen t?
Huff : No, it didn't go like that. One of the mysteries to myself,
is, I've never really lost my idealism, under conditions which I would
think I would have. And I've examined that, and I think the reason
is — at least my rationalization is — that somehow or another I've always
been able to separate the theory and the system from the people
[involved in running it]. I can go before a committee [of the
legislature] and see somebody whom I have no respect for, or who I
think is a crook, or whatever, and I don't nail the system with the
fact that we [the voters] put the wrong person in there.
Also, I feel that what we get, basically, is what we deserve.
That it's pretty much a mirror of what we are. And if we're sending a
poor caliber of legislator to Sacramento, or congressman to Washington,
we get just about what we deserve.
Morr i s; How about the corollary that in spite of its imperfections,
and the lack of people paying attention, and taking part, that the
people in the long run usually make a sound decision?
Huff ; Well, I'll put it a little differently and I'm not sure how
sound a judgment it is. The system tends, or has tended, to kind of
bungle its way along, and we have survived. In California, my concern
is that in the last — let's see if I can put a time on it — at least in
the last 15 years, maybe 20 years, the legislature has ceased to face
up to, and resolve, the major issues in this state. As a result,
there's been greater, and heavier reliance on the initiative, and that
is destructive of the system, because it's a poor way to solve a
problem. For all its defects, the legislative process does expose a
proposal to critical examination, does expose it to the give and take,
the compromise process. Both party to party, house to house, various
interests and con tr a- i n ter ests , and all that abr as i veness . Although the
solution may get watered down in the process, there is progress, even
if it only inches a long, a little bit [at a time].
When the thing gets so stalemated, that the process can't
seem to make any kind of decision — it walks up to it, then walks
awa> — the system's not working.
Morr i s ; Do you recall when initiatives began to be introduced by
1 eg i si a tors?
Huff. ; Well, they've always done it from time to time, but I think
it's become more prevalent in, probably, the last decade. I couldn't
put a precise time on it.
You know, Proposition 13 [ Jarv i s-Gann property tax limitation
initiative, 19733 was sort of a watershed deal. There was a mechanism
in the state constitution--! helped draft the amendment. I didn't
really like it, but I think it was a classical example o-f a compromise
that I thought was d i stastef u 1 --bu t something had to be done. It was
called the homeowners' property tax exemption, and it was a dollar
amount that was built in to take the heat out of the inflationary
forces on the property tax. That was a legislative initiative.
Morr i s : Prop. 13 was a legislative initiative?
Hut f : No, no, wait a minute. I'm talking about the homeowners"'
exemption. We had to amend the constitution to do that. I want to make
a distinction. Ulh e n you talk abou t legislators p r omo ting initiatives,
what went through my mind was a Ross Johnson [state assemblyman] going
out although he"'s a legislatoi and starting an initiative
circulation c amp a i gn on his own .
Morr i s ; Right. That's what I mean, as opposed to the measures by the
constitution that have to go on the ballot.
Huff ; Yes, there's legislaitve initiatives all the time, and that's
historically where most of them have come from. The number of
grassroots initiatives that are successful in getting on the ballot is
fairly small . And it's only jn the recent decade or so, really with
Prop. 13, that the computer and the sophistication of the signature
gathering process has become a cottage industry. If you've got the
right size nest egg, you can almost guarantee getting something on the
ballot. So that's a different deal.
But my point on the homeowners' exemption was, there was this
mechanism in the constitution, and the legislature, instead of staying
with it and updating the dollar figure of the exemption to match
inflation, they Just ignored it. It was put in there, and just allowed
to stay static. If they had kept it current, property taxes would not
have become a major political issue. [The constitutional mechanism
provided for updating the exemption figure by statute.] What happened
was, that there got to be a big brou-ha-ha about the renter, and the
political forces representing the renter were insisting on something
for them, and wouldn't allow the other to be updated, and the plain
fact is, there is no logical, sure, measurable way to give relief to
the renter. It can't be done. And that's where the whole thing kind of
blew up. But if they'd kept that homeowners' exemption viable, there
would never have been a Prop. 13. Simple as that.
. AN INSIDER'S VI EU OF STATE GOVERNMENT: 1963-79
Mr. Huff Goes to Sacramento
Mor r i s ; How did you happen to come up to Sacramento and become
executive officer of the California State Franchise Tax Board?
Huff ; Because I dot a phone call from Alan Cranston in the middle
of a mee no,, asked me if I wanted to be the executive officer, and I
sa i d , yes .
I was an elected city official in Oakland. I was the
auditor-controller, and I was in some kind of meeting. My secretary
pulled me out, and Alan was on the other end of the line. He was
chairman of the Franchise Tax Board, as controller. It's a three-man
board, and the incumbent executive officer who'd been there 13 years
was a Republican and was retiring [John J. Campbell],
I think I had thrown my name in the pot for executive
secretary. State Board of Equalization. But I hadn't really pursued it
very much. That probably surfaced my name, but I actually hadn't put in
for the FTB . In fact, I'm not sure I even knew there was going to be a
vacancy. I don't know, I was just ready. That's all I can say. When he
asked me --you know, I needed to ask my wife! Move my whole family, my
kids, and everything.
Of course, it didn't happen for-- that was in May, or
sometime — and it didn't take place until the end of August. I know,
because our family was all going on a big trip back east, and I had to
bail out of that. I went up to fdaho, and floated down the middle fork
of the Salmon River on a raft (SF attorney and politico Bill Gobi enz
was my tentmate on the trip), while my family went back east to visit
relatives, and all that kind of business. So it was sort of a fluke, I
guess. It wasn't anything I had planned, but mentally, and every other
way, I was ready to do it.
Mor r i s ; So Alan would have talked to the other people on that three
man board, and said, this person —
Huf f : Oh, yes, he'd run it — the director of finance was Hale
Champion. I'm not sure they talked to the third member. That was John
Lynch --at the moment he was chairman of the Board of Equal i zat i on
[BofE]. The FTB consists of the director of finance, the controller,
and whoever happens to be chairman of the Board of Equalization, which
rotates annually. He C Lynch] was not very swift, politically or
technically. He was sort of along for the ride. So I'm sure they
mentioned it to him, but as an accomplished fact.
Mor r i s : And he was in the minority as one Republican.
Huf f ; No, he was a Democrat. All three were Democrats at the time.
No, he was elected, he was part of the '58 sweep. He and Nevins all
came in in ' 58 .
Mor r i s : What were the things that interested you about the FTB, and
were there some specific tasks--?
Huf f : Well, I was a CPA , and, you know, administration of the state
income tax came under the FTB. I was more interested as an
adm i n i s t r a t or than anything else. I don ' t k n ow h ow to explain it.
Morr i s; Neither the Franchise Tax Board and the Board of Equalization
are well known, and its members even less so.
Huff ; John Lynch was a valley man, basically. Not about to go down
in the annals as a contributor of very much of anything. He was a
go-a longer, basically. A nice guy, and perfect gentlemen, very nice
guy. No great politico, however.
Morr i s ! George Re i 1 1 y was still in his heyday, at that point.
Huff : We 1 1 , when you say "heyday", I don't know what you mean.
Morr i s : That he'd been there when —
Huff ; He was there a long time.
Morr i s ; Right, and when you read about it in the press — which was
usually the San Francisco press, in my exper i e nee --he seemed to feel
that he was having a significant effect on fiscal affairs in
Cal i f or n i a .
Huf f ; About that — [gestures]
Morr i s ; Not much?
Huf i : Zero. In -fact, if a constituent from San Francisco had a case
before the BofE, the poor constituent would leave feeling that, by
gollx, George Re i 1 1 y was really in his corner, and George said all the
right things. When they [BofE board members] signed off" on a case, more
often than not, he signed the other way [opposite to the constituent's
position]. It was all show.
He survived the Bonelli [William G.] scandals, and up until
that time he d i dn ' t even know what was going on. He told me this
personally one time. It was just kind of luck that he survived. And he
just went with the flow, and he didn't know who was doing what to
anybody. Then after that [the scandals], he decided he was going to put
on a show. He was just an actor in a scene, and it didn't mean a thing.
Morr i s : I see. That's too bad.
Huf f ; I would say that he contributed virtually nothing in his
forty-odd years on the Board of Equalization. I suppose I shouldn't be
iso hard on him because he was generally a strong supporter of mine, but
jmy style is to call them as straight as I know how, friend or foe.
'Nor r i s ; From where you sat on the Franchise Tax Board, did you feel
I that the Board of Equal i ration was a necessary part of state
igover nmen t ?
.Huff ; In terms of function, or in terms of theory?
Morr i s ! In terms of needing an elected bod>
Huff : I don't think that it should be an elected body at all. It's
totally inappropriate. But it serves as an administrative appeals board
jto my [former] department. Not to the FTB as a board, but to my
I [former] department. And that role can be handled without a
constitutional elected body. In fact the administrative remedy for the
taxpayer should be provided by an independent board appointed by the
governor. That's the way it should be handled.
What we have, grew 1 ike Topsy. It started out with — this is a
whole subject, but--. You know, in the late '20s, the Board of
Equalization was a handful of people, staff. All it did was equalize
the property tax rolls between counties — and they didn't do much of a
job on that—and actually assess the public utility roll. That was a
•fairly sma 1 1 function.
When the sales tax came along, that's what expanded the
department. The same [legislative] package that had the sales tax had
the income tax. This was in the depth of the depression, and there was
divisiveness between rural and labor [political] forces, and the income
tax did not pass that time. If it had, it undoubtedly would have
been — because the package was put together by Riley [Ray L . ] , the
controller, and Stewart [Fred E.3, the chairman of the Board of
Equal ization — the income tax would have been administered by the Board
of Equalization, today.
They [the legislature] doubled back. A couple of years later
they managed to get the income tax enacted — personal inome tax. There
was already a corporate tax. By that time the political climate was
such that they did not want to attach the income tax to the Board of
Equalization. There was the Franchise Tax Commissioner [Charles J.
McColgan] — it was not a board then — and so they threw it to him.
Now also in the depression, when they enacted the amendment
to the constitution that created the [state] civil service, when they
did it, through an error in draf tmansh i p , they forget about the
Franchise Tax Commissioner [it was a v e r y low profile position]. Since
the civil service amendment was silent with respect to the position of
Franchise Tax Commissioner, there was no way to remove the incumbent!
He had been appointed by a committee, and the comm i t tee--when the act
was passed, back in '' 29 , --cons i sted of the state controller, the
chairman of the Board of Equalization, and the director of finance.
McColgan was the commissioner -from about ''31 through the end
o-f "49. He was 16 years at that — no, he was longer than that. He was 19
years. [Caspar] Weinberger [currently Secretary o-f De-fense and a
distant cousin o-f Huff's daughter-in-law, Kathy Hu-f-f] was a state
assemblyman at the time. He led an investigative committee, and there
were some other powers and forces at work. What had happened, is that
McColgan had become a rec 1 use — some say he was an alcoholic--! don't
know. The evidence is that he was at least a recluse. He would go into
his office in San Franc i sco--he never came to Sacramento. The operation
up here was run by a deputy [William M. Walsh], He [McColgan] would go
into his office there [San Francisco], and his own employees never knew
him at work. He would shut the door, and that was it.
At some time during all this, he was forced to come to
Sacramento and testify before the committee on the operation of his
department, and he didn't know beans. He didn't know his own budget, he
didn't know anything. It was a scandal , it was an absolute scandal . Not
a scandal of conscious wrong-doing, just a scandal of inaction, so to
speak, non-direction. His department was stodgy, but reasonably well
run, thanks to the civil servants, but not to him.
That's when they found out they had no way of removing him.
So what they did, is they abolished his position, and created the
Franchise Tax Board, which was the appointing committee. [The
legislature] turned all the powers of the commissioner over to the
board, and it then turned around and delegated all those powers back to
the executive officer — except the appointment of the executive officer,
the adoption of regulations, and the setting of the bank tax rate, all
Mickey Mouse kind of business, other than appointing the executive
of f i cer .
A Question of Style
Mor r i s : Were there some things that Alan thought ought to be done, or
that Pat Brown thought ought to be done, or was it purely that they
wanted a competent person?
Huf f ; That's it, and the interesting charge that I got from
Champion and Cranston was, we don't really want to know anything — keep
us out of trouble. Go run the show, that s what it amounted to. And, of
course, the concept was to make it independent of politics, and that's
the way I approached i t--to a lot of people's dissatisfaction, but
that's the way I thought it had to be.
Mor r i s : Was there considerable pressure to administer--
Huf f ; Not under me there wasn't. Nobody had the guts to try. I
learned that down at City Hall, that if you set the environment right
you save yourself a lot of trouble, because people aren't going to ask
you [to do] inappropriate things, because they know it won't work. So
you just have got to watch the 1 i ne [as to what is ethical , moral and
legal]. If you [are tempted to] cross the 1 ine, and you don't know
where the next line is, you better hadn't cross the first line, because
you will find yourself in a 'no man's land' where there are no ethical
bearings for guidance.
Morr i s : What kind of observations do you have about Roger's [Kent]
resignation? There are various theories; one, that he'd been tired of
! it for a while, and the other, that there was some sort of maneuvering
about Pat's re-election campaign.
Huff : Oh , I think he got t i r ed of it. We H , 1 e t ' s pu t it this wax .
In '66, for Pat Brown's third term, I think there was a general
burnout. There was burnout within the administration, and there was a
degree of burnout in the party, too. It's hard to sustain carrying the
load and the responsibility on critical issues where there was little
or no chance of w i nn i ng--to fight a lot of battles, and keep fighting
them, when you knew you were going to lose.
I told Pat Brown this once, and it just shocked the pants off
of him. I told him he really wasn't a politician. It kind of hurt, you
i know. He's got a pretty high ego. The fact is the he evolved and
developed as a consummate bureaucrat in a special class. Not really my
kind of bureaucrat, but he was interested in the system, he had his own
[standards and ideals, and his own principles, and he was a good
delegator. He involved staff in the decision-making process—some th i ng
Ronald Reagan didn't do. When I say that, I mean he involved the
knowledgeable professionals. He would actually pull them in, and he
would get the word direct — he didn't have it screened though all kinds
of political operators.
Mor r i s : There were times when he would call you in?
Huff ; I've gotten involved in sessions with him. Of course, I was
involved in one with Ronald Reagan I might tell you about, too. That
was hi 1 ar i ous .
But with him [ Brown ] --the way I characterized it: if it was a
; purely political question, and political issue, you almost had to back
him to the wal 1 , hoi di ng h im to i t , and say . Pat , th i s i s a pol i t i cal
issue. You're going to have to make a political judgment, a political
decision, and we're going to held you there until it's over. Because if
you took the pressure off, he'd reve- to form. My best example of it
was pitting Democrat against Democrat. George Miller, Jr., as chairman
of the Senate finance committee was unalterably opposed to any kind of
enforcement on the highways.
Morr i s : Speed limits?
Huf f ; Well anything. Radar, you name it. And here we were losing
four thousand people a year on the highways, which doesn't take very
long to add up to the Vietnam fatalities. Pat, as governor, felt very
strongly about this issue, and he would go in with the program — as part
of his program in a given year with the whole safety package, and he'd
emerge at the end of the year bloody. Miller would just play with him,
toying with him like a dog with a rat, or something. And the staff, one
year, said, hey, give us a break. He wouldn't do it. He felt so
strongly about it, he said, even if we lose, there's four thousand
lives out there at stake, we have to go fight the battle. To me, that
was great stuff, I really liked that.
Morris: That's the old attorney general at work.
Huff ; That's right. And on judicial appointments, when he had to
make a lousy political appointment to the bench, he would turn around
and balance the scales by making some spectacular appointments. In his
ow n mind, that tended to —
Morr i s ; Consciously.
Huff : Yes.
Morr- i s : Would you care to explain who those were.
Huff : We 1 1 , it would be putting my judgment in his place, and some
of whom I considered to be duds, he might consider good ones. There
were some appointments in A lame da County that I did not consider
spectacular. They were just old political hacks.
M o r r i s ; Who had to be.
Huff : They were party workers, and they were old style. They were
pre-CDC, pr e -Steven son . Leonard Dieden was one whom I considered a hack
of" the worst order, but he was a good -fund raiser. And the guy who
looked 1 ike Carmen DiSappio, and -functioned about the same. He was
another politico we called the Silver Fox (like Sen. Collier).
Morr i s ; Purchio.
Huff ! Purchio. John J. Purchio, that's right. To me they were just
pol itical hacks o-f the lowest order.
Morr i s : Well, but you know, that's the same charge that's being made
in this current campaign. That some of the people on the State Supreme
Court were pol itical appointess o-f the other Governor Brown.
Hu-f i : Jerry Brown.
Morr i s ; Yes.
Hu-f -f ; Well, I think Jerry Brown made some terrible political
judgments. He was Justice Tobriner's law clerk. Justice Tobriner was a
•fine justice, and i -f anybody deserved to be elevated to chief justice
on merit, he did. If anybody deserved to get it on political merit, he
did. But Jerry wanted to be the first one to appoint a woman chief
justice. If he had elevated Tobriner to chief justice, appointed Rose
[Bird] to j ust i ce--Tobr i ner was right on the edge of retirement,
anywa> — he'd have served a couple of years with distinction, Rose would
have had a chance to assimilate in a non-threatening situation, and
could have been elevated, no fuss or muss, or, at least, a minimum.
It was just a lousy political decision, all because of his
ow n ego.
Morr i s ; A matter of timing, rather than inherent qualifications.
Huff ; Yes, that's right.
Nor r i s ; Well, once Roger did resign, were there others who provided
the same kind of continuity, linkage and tradition?
Huff ; Never the same. There'll never be another Roger Kent,
probably. You know, it's something special.
Morr i s; He's very special to those who worked with him. How did the
people in southern California feel about him? Did the things that made
h i m spec i al to —
Huff ! It was different, because he was a northerner. But he still
represented the continuity, and the leadership, and, basically,
se 1 f 1 e ssn e ss , that was a ma j or plus f or the p ar t y .
Mor r i s : Th e people wh o ' v e succeeded hi m — we ' v e don e a brief inter v i e w
with Charles Warren, and Roger Boas-- they both described being party-
chair as painful. Both the contending with the factions, and, I guess,
by then the deficits were larger than they had been?
Huff ; We didn't have any deficits. Well , not when I was there, we
didn't. They came after me.
Morr i s ; Did you not have deficits while you were treasurer because
you were treasurer, and said, there shall be no deficits?
Huff ; Well, I can't claim full credit for it. Part of it. But it
was because of Roger, and the whole mileau, and what everybody was
doing. And I was a hard-1 iner.
Morr i s ; It was part of it.
Morr i s ; It's a policy thing, that we will overspend, or we won't
H u -f -f ; That's right. We managed to 1 ive within our means, and we
managed to somehow or other, have the means match at least minimum
needs. A lot of the time it was kind of a 'by-guess and by-gosh' thing,
but there was enough going on out there, that money would float in.
Some congressional district that hadn't contributed in a long time
would have scraped up some money, and sent some in right when we were
wondering it we were going to pay the rent. This type of thing.
As I think I told you before, we actually built a credit
record. We had a credit rating, with printers, and — it's like money in
the bank. Nobody ever heard of a political party doing that. But you
see Warren, he was a legislator, the worst person you can put in as a
party leader, in any position, is a legislator.
Morr i s! Why is that?
Huff : Number one, they're coming from a different place; number-
two, they don't have the time; three, their perspective is too
narrow-- in terms of the district, and issues, and everything. It's just
the wrong cal iber person. It's no reflection on any particular
individual. And they don't have the stomach to deal with f ac t i on s-- they
can't handle that kind of problem. That's a cold bath for them.
Roger was able to--I don't know, there's some way —
Morr i s ! But factions are inherent in the legislative process.
Huff ; That's different, that's a club. That's a closed, tight club.
And those people --you might think they're bitter enemies by what they
said on the floor, in a committee—you'd go out and find them eating
together afterwards, the closest of buddies.
M o r r i s ! Yes, but there are also some of the battles over the
speaker-ship, and things of that sort. You know, when Unruh steps down
as speaker. Willie Brown lost the first round, and it was ten years
before he could work up enough —
Huff ; Well, he had to sell his soul to become speaker, classic
Morr i s ; To the Republ icans?
Huff ; Yes. Don't give me a speaker who had to sell his soul to the
opposition. They're useless. Really, they're no good.
Morr i s ; But that's dealing with factions. You may have to--
Huff : But that's inter -party factions, and not intra-party
factions. At least intra-party, supposedly, you're all going in the
same general direction. You're not going in opposite — the other
factionalism, that's straight wheeling and dealing, buying and selling,
as far as I'm concerned. You're promised a committee chairmanship for
your vote .
Pol i t i cal Ph i 1 osophy and Personal i t i es
Morr i s : The same year you had Roger resign, you had Pat Brown and
everybody else, except March Fong CEu]. Was that the year? Anyway, you
lost a lot of campaigns in '66.
Huff ; Well , let's see. March Fong wasn't there in '66. She came
Morr i s ; No. I quess she was still in the legislature. She came in
with Jerry [Brown], several years later.
Huff ; Yes. She came in with Jerry, Unruh, and Cory. That bunch.
Nor r i s ; Were there some conferences, or efforts to pick up the
pieces, and make some long-range plans for the party.
Huf f : I was out of it at that point.
Nor r I s ; Nobody came and wept on your shoulder, and said, what are we
go ing to do?
Huf f : No. they didn't need my advice.
Morr i s ; Thinking alonq the business as a boy scout model —
Huff ! What do you call a "boy scout"?
Mor r i s : Well , the boy scout troop, 1 iterally. You know, in
organizations like that there's an effort to develop some leadership
for next year. Were there any efforts along those 1 ines? You know,
Roger must have had some thought for the future. He didn't want to be
there forever, and Don might have thought that he didn't want to be
there forever .
Huf f ; Don expected to be there forever.
Morr i s : D i d h e ?
Huf f ; Well , that's a throwaway remark. But yes, as long as he was
around, he expected to be one of the shakers and movers. And I think,
rightly so. But he was a pro, and Roger was an amateur --in the sense
that one was paid, and the other wasn't paid. Roger was a pro in his
own right, in his own sense, by virtue of knowledge, expertise, and
t i me spen t .
I really can't respond to the thinking of par ty-1 eadersh i p
building. There was kind of a continual 'by-guess and by-gosh' basis
back in my days. I want to say 'by-guess and by-gosh' because I don't
want to give it any patina of being very scientific. It was
opportunistic in terms of who emerged, and I think one of Roger's
unique contributions was recognizing, and giving the opportunity for
people to emerge as leaders. He was never insecure. He never felt that
he had to be 'it', and that he had to have it all. That was the real
secret to it. A Jesse Unruh cannot tolerate the emergence of any other
leadership. So the people around him are all toadies, they're all just
yes-men. They have to do what he says, and he decides. Anybody who
emerges is a threat. That's a difference in style of leadership.
You know, I've seen it in the executive branch, also. My
theory of management was, I ought to be able to walk away, and the
place runs. It couldn't, shouldn't, and wasn't dependent on my being
there. At the same time, I had to provide the standards, and the
ideals, and the tone — is really what you do. (I've seen various
comments vis-a-vis Reagan and the Iran/contra affair, but nowhere have
I seen the assertion that he should be held responsible because of the
standard of expectancy that he set that made it possible for underl ings
to feel that they were taking a course of action consistent with the
President's policies and standards.) As a bureaucrat, you don't have
access to a pencil, or a person, or an office, without another
department ye a- ing or nay- ing your request. You really have no control
over anything. You are given a license to sell ideas somewhere else
[outside the department], and have people buy them [the ideas] in order
to accomplish the de par tent's mission. I never really realized it, in
terms of career objectives, that most of life involves selling in one
form or another. I had always disliked the concept of selling. In fact,
when I was a kid, trying to sell door to door, I always vowed, that no
matter what I did, I didn't want to be a salesman. Then I found out
that, no matter what you did in 1 i f e , you had to be a salesman. If you
weren't selling commodities, you were selling ideas, or whatever.
Morr i s : The picture that emerges, is, here's & political party, whose
reason -for being is to elect people to office. Yet once elected to
office, those people who are elected to o-f-fice are not on 1 x ungrateful ,
but not very supportive o-f the party that elected them.
Huff ; Yes.
Morr i s ; That's fascinating.
Huff : It's a self-destructive process, basically. The minute you
win, you start to lose. For one thing, you —
Morr i s ; Candidate or party, or both?
Huf f : Both. The winner, the governor, reaches out, and he starts
putting people on the bench that were all party workers and putting
them into his a dm i n i str t i on , and this type of thing, and you're
destroying the fabric of the thing that put you there. And you destroy
it faster than it can regenerate—basically, I think is what happens.
M o r r i s ; Is that inherent in the system, or is there something that
cou Id be f i xed?
Huf f ! I'm not sure it can be fixed. I think it's basically
inherent. Just the nature of the beast. Of course, you have the
' Ch i c ago so 1 u t i on ' , wh ere a dm i n i s t • •.- 1 i v e appointees continue to hold
party positions, but that's certainly not the right answer to the
pr obi em .
Well, Wendell Willkie [1944 Republican presidential nominee]
characterized it in a different way, in terms of the presidency. When
you're elected, you have this reservoir of good will --and let's apply
it to Deukmejian — and if your''e going to accomplish anything, you have
to dip into that reservoir of good will and use it, and when you do,
you're depleting the reservoir, because it doesn't regenerate itself.
So you're sowing the seeds of your own destruction by accomplishing
legitimate objectives, and weakening the whole system.
Deukmej i an ' s strength today lies in the fact that he has
barely dipped in — in three years — into that reservoir and done
anything. So he's fairly intact. Other than making a big crusade about
the court, what's he ever come out very strongly for, and can anybody
really identify him as a crusader, or a pusher, or doer of anything, in
terms of the public welfare?
Morr i s ; Is it a parallel?: Reagan came in as governor when he was
going to cut back on government, and get —
Huf f ; Passed the largest tax b i 1 1 --carr i ed by then State Senator-
George Deukmejian, incidentally — of any governor in the history of
California. Went to Washington, has incurred a greater debt than all
his predecessors combined.
Morr i s ; But you would think that he would have used up that reservoir
fairly quickly, and yet what did he do — he went on to Washington.
Huf f ; I don't think he used the reservoir. Not very often. From my
1 imited perspective, I only saw him have to really make a choice, where
he just couldn't go with his doctrine, a couple of times in eight years
as governor. One time was on withholding, which was the rock on which
he stood when he came in. And [Caspar] Weinberger, as director of
finance, didn't have the guts to tell him the facts of life. It was
only when Verne Orr [currently secretary of the Air Force] came in as
Weinberger's successor, and in a matter of days saw where the state was
heading, and walked in, and laid it all out for the governor. Reagan
left that meeting white as a sheet, and that's when he said: "The sound
you hear is the cement cracking around my feet." That's what that was
al 1 about .
Nor r I s ! You have a piece of that concrete?
Huf i ; I have a piece o-f it, yes.
Morr i s ; Oh, that's wonderful.
Huf f ; That was a joke really.
Mor-r i s; No, Ken Hall — ?
Huff ; He was a deputy, or assistant cabinet secretary, and he was
going over to Finance at the time. When they had his going away party
all the department directors were invited. He said, "I don't want a
gift" — in fact I used that, when I retired, I used that gimmick in a
different way. But he reached down and put a carton up by the rostrum,
and said: "I was cleaning out my desk." And he had something for every
department director, wih both a little humor in it, and some
s i gn i f i cance .
Morr i s ; This he did as assistant cabinet secretary.
Huf f ; Yes — as assistant agency secretary. We had the agencies. He
was the number two guy in the Agriculture and Services Agency.
Mr. Huff Meets Governor Reagan
Huff : I didn't tell you about the meeting of the Reagan cabi.net
sess i on .
Morr i s; That was my next question, I didn't want to lose that.
Huf f ; Okay. There was an issue. It was a technical issue involving
income averaging, and the fact that if the law wasn't changed promptly,
the constitutional change in the legislative salaries was such — this
was when they went up significantly to a new pay-base--that they could
all have taken advantage of the income averaging provisions unless it
was statutorily negated.
And there was a bill , and it was a question of timing--we
were up against April 15 [the tax filing deadline], and the bill had to
be in and chaptered [filed, logged and numbered by the secretary of
state after being signed by the governor] before the tax deadline for
it to apply to the prior tax year . So I got a cal 1 from somebody in the
governor's office, that said, you know, in twenty minutes we're going
to have a meeting of the legislative leadership over this bill, and
could I come over and attend the meeting? I said, fine. To me,
legislative leadership meant both houses, both parties, the whole bit.
So I go over there. In the old days, when Pat [Brown] was
there, we all had easy access into the governor's office. You could
roam in, and they didn't have all this security. Under Reagan
everything was very tight security, and the big office that Pat used
was turned into kind of a board room, with this huge table, and
high -backed chairs all around it. And the small private of ice that Pat
used to use — it had sort of a way you could duck back there — which
would comfortably hold a half dozen people, became Reagan's office. Pat
used to use it when he had a meeting going in the large office, and
somebody was in and he had to conduct a second mee t i ng--why , he'd do
Anyway, I headed over to the governor s office. I go in, an
this fellow Smith was director of finance — a small short, sawed-off
Morr i s; Gordon Paul Smith?
Huff ; Gordon Paul Smith.
Morr i s ; Oh, great. I've never heard a physical description of him.
Huf i \ Small, sawed off runt, with an ego a mile high — you're going
to get a description 1 ike you've never heard be-fore. Our paths
converged, and I said, "Are we going to the same meeting?" So we go in,
we get cleared through into the big room and then into the small back
And the governor wa.s sitting there. Nobody told me I was
go ing to a mee ting with the governor . Th is is -far i y ear 1 y on C i n his
administration]. Bill Clark [former justice, California Supreme Court;
•former White House aide; currently secretary of the Interior! was the
governor's executive secretary. He was the second to hold that position
under Reagan. The governor is sitting there with his feet up on the
desk, and the Jelly bean Jar was on the table behind him. It's very
important where the Jelly bean Jar was. It turned out "legislative
leadership" was only Republican leadership.
Morr i s ; Let's see, Bob Monagan?
Huf f ; It was, let's see McCarthy C John ] --maybe Monagan was there. I
know the guy from Piedmont, who became protocol officer — [Don Mulford]
Morr i s : The redhead with the bad temper.
Huf f ; Yes, from Piedmont. He was there, and quite a bit of
staff --Bill Clark. And something was going on upstairs [on the floor of
the two houses of the legislature], and it was taking a while for
everybody to assemble. So on a couch — let me describe this. The room
wa.s 1 ike maybe this big [fifteen feet square], the couch over here
[against the east window], Reagan's desk is here [toward the center as
you enter, but on the west side of the room], table behind it with the
Jelly beans, some chairs spotted around.
When we finally got everybody in, there were seventeen people
in the room, but this was before they all arrived. So I'm sitting over-
he re [northeasterly, against the wall] and Dave Doerr , who was chief
consultant to the Assembly Revenue and Taxation Committee, and a
Democrat--he and I ended up being the only Democrats in the room. And
some staffer came in by the side [west] door, this side door, over
here, sort of behind the governor, and he reaches into the jelly bean
Jar, and takes a Jelly bean. And Gordon Paul Smith is sitting over
here, on the couch [against the east window], and he gets up, and he
gets sort of in a position like this [knees bent, head cocked up], with
his big Jaw out, and he says, "Toss me one."
So this guy is tossing a jelly bean over the governor's head,
and Smith is trying to catch it with his mouth. Well, he did that about
three times before he made the catch. And I'm sitting there saying (to
myself), "This is how this administration is being run?" Because it was
my first insight, the first time I'd ever sat in on one of his
Well, finally everybody got there. Bill Clark, big tall guy,
arms folded, standing against the wall — he opened the meeting.
Morris: There's no more room to sit down, so he's standing against
the wal 1?
Huff: Yes, I think that was it--well, he was standing, anyway. But
there's seventeen people packed in this place. He opens the meeting by
saying, "Okay, Martin, you tell us what the problem is." [laughs]
Nobody told me I was going to be thrown the ball, briefing
the governor and the whole business! So I did, you know, and explained
why the issue was critical, and the whole business. And then we got
into a terrible kind of situation. In the state constitution there s a
provision that emergency legislation requires a two-thirds vote of both
houses on an 'urgency clause' that states why the legislation must go
into effect immediately. The kicker was that the Personal Income Tax
was exempted -from this rule.
Senator McCarthy -from Mar i n , a veteran Republican leader in
the upper house, was sitting there, and timing was critical — or rather,
the urgency question, because it involved the Democrats, and how many
votes were needed, and whether you're going to get two thirds, and all
this kind of business.
I don •' t recall how it all came about, but I started to make
the point that it didn't require an urgency clause. McCarthy didn't
know the rules, he didn't know the constitution, so, in effect, he was
calling me a liar. And I couldn't dispute a leader of the Republican
party in front of the governor, and all that. I didn't feel that was
the seemly thing to do. But Dave Doerr jumped in as an independent
source, and he confirmed that I was correct.
But this is where — to me — it was interesting. Always before,
under Pat Brown, when we got into one of these situations, we were
right there through the decision. We reached a point in that meeting
--Doerr and I were sent packing—and then they stayed back and made the
decision. And there wasn't anybody in the room that knew very much
about what they were doing. That told me something about how that
Es t ab 1 i sh i n Q I n c ome Tax U i t h h o 1 d i no
Huff ; On withholding, I could write a whole book. Someday I'll
write the book on withholding Cof state income tax], because that was
the most spectacular example of how the bureaucracy can function when
it has to, and with the right leadership — which was me. But the key to
that was — in the first place, withholding had failed by one vote the
previous year. Now Reagan had thrown in the sponge. But politically he
was in a very difficult position to do anything very overt. From an
administrative point of view, I was in a real bind. We had a computer
that couldn't handle withholding —
Mor r i s : This is after withholding has passed?
Huff ; No, no. Withholding hadn't passed at all. We had a computer
that couldn't handle it, we had a physical facility that couldn't
handle it. Two biggies. And actually, to make the conversion on the
computer we had to go from what was called "DOS" to "Big OS", which is
computer jargon. We could get some equipment temporarily to get us over
into that mode, but we were still going to have to have six months lead
time to get the equipment we actually needed. So that was two computer
equipment changes, and a new facility.
Politically, they [the administration] were not in any
position to budget for any of this. We did it all with mirrors, but the
reason I was able to do it with mirrors is, I got a private audience
with His Nibs, Ronald Reagan. I 1 a i d ou t the problems, got General
Services and Finance and all the powers that be to understand where the
governor was coming from. But there were no fingerprints, and nothing
in writing. I was in effect told, go do it.
Morr i s ! That's interesting that, once having made the decision, he
didn't balk at what needed to be done to implement it.
Huf f ; Well, as a bureaucrat, I could have sat on my duff, and said,
until there's a law, we can't do a thing. Of course, I would have been
the goat when the law was enacted, and I couldn't put it into effect
i nstan t 1 y .
We had to order paper eight months in advance --neck out on
that. We did the computer thing. We went through two generations of
compu ter s--unp 1 ug , plug, tw .e. Very gutsy business. We got the rental
of a suitable facil i ty out at Aerojet [in suburban Sacramento]. They
were hurting at the time, nationally, on defense contracts, and we
negotiated the cheapest lease the state had negotiated in 20 years, and
hasn't repeated since then. But it had to be a military secret. For
one, because of the political problems, and the other, because it was
the only standing facility in Sacramento that could handle the job. If
Ae r o j e t k n ew t h a t we were in that kind of p os i t i on , the y d h av e jacked
the price way up .
We actually had a better proposition, which is a whole other
story, which was to put it out at the old fairgrounds. I don't know if
you know about that. The state had the property, it was an ideal
location because it was in a low income area, and we were the largest
user of temporary help in Sacramento. We could not get the city ot
Sacramento to go along with the required zoning change, because, they
said, it would be 'piecemeal' development; it was a concept they
weren't used to. So we got nailed on that. This left us with the
Aerojet thing. We negotiated that.
Nor r i s i You negotiated that and--
Huf f ; Literally, in the middle of the night. Aerojet and General
Services. It took all three of us, and I was over at General Services
with the Aerojet representative who was authorized to sign off on
behalf of the company. We started in the afternoon. At five o'clock,
the General Services attorney working on the contract disappeared on
us. We discovered that he had gone home! We made him come back because
we'd reached agreement, and everybody that had authority to sign was
there. Then it was a case of getting i t al 1 in writing. And I said no
one leaves until this thing is signed off, we are in agreement, and
everyone can do it. If we come back tommorow, somebody will come up
with another wrinkle. And I had people standing by at my shop to run
the press, to turn out a notice to our people the next morn i ng--wh i ch
we did. They ran at eleven o'clock at night, and we had a piece of
paper on everyone's desk the next morning tell ing them that, in six
weeks, we would be moving. This was a major shock, and we didn't want
the employees to hear about it first either by rumor or through the
med i a .
We dismantled a small hospital out at Aerojet, because that's
where we had to put the computer, and did all the remodel ing and
everything (except the executive area—and that's another story), and
moved in five or six weeks from the day we signed that contract.
Mor r i s : This was before the concrete had cracked around Reagan's
Huff : Oh, no. The concrete already cracked, but the [legislative]
bill was still working its way. This was in May. The bill was signed
December 7th or 8th. Right around Pearl Harbor Day. In the middle of
the Christmas rush we had to notify — this is the spectacular part of
the story. There were some four hundred thousand employers in
California. Every one of them had to get a forty-eight page booklet
with tables, and instructions, and everything, on how to do all this.
That was part of ordering the paper. This thing has a lot of facets to
it. We worked very closely with the state printer on it every step of
the way. In fact, we took it out of the Department of Employment's
hands, because they had a piece of the action, and theoretically the
booklet was coming out o-f their shop, but that's a whole other story.
But they couldn't fight their way out of a paper bag, and —
Morr i s ; Employment has its own print shop that does jobs?
Huff : No, I mean, they had a piece of the law, in terms of the way-
payroll deductions were handled. It was all reported through them. So,
theoretically, the booklet was theirs, but it was, basically, our law,
so we just took it out of their hands. They were really bent out of
We got hold of the post office, the regional office, and we
got them to put in the postal bulletin that comes out every month, I
guess, saying, that sometime down the road, we don't know when, there
will be this mass mailing, bulk mailing. You are to treat it as
''yellow-tag-' mail (the equivalent of first class mail handling)
whenever you get it. We had no idea that it was going to hit in the
middle of the Christmas card rush, but we had laid that foundation.
The feds — you can't mandate withholding to the feds, you have
to negotiate a contract with them to withhold state taxes from the
federal employees in California. I had to fly an attorney back to
Washington, and negotiate this contract, so we'd be ready -for that. If
we had had any idea this thing was going to run down this close--. The
state was on the verge of going belly-up cash-f 1 ow-w i se . What had
happened in '58: when Pat Brown came in, they had started a lot of tax
reform proposals, and a lot of them dealt with accelerating cash flow.
But the personal income tax revenues, you got on April 15th and
thereabouts plus two prior installments from high income people who
normally had to estimate for the feds. Politically the Brown
administration had made a judgment not to push for withholding in ''59.
It was a wrong political judgment; if they had gotten it in, it
wouldn't have been a problem. But it became a major pol i t i cal issue
from ''5?, all the way through enactment in '70.
Cash-flow-wise, that was one of the main problems. The budget
was in balance, but the timing of the receiving of the money was not
good, and they'd done everything else possible. Withholding was the
last thing, and it was a major piece of cash. The controller was
getting ready to register war-ran ts--he was actually getting the
mechanism ready to go, it was that close. [Registering warrants is a
borrowing procedure whereby the banks are asked to honor the warrants,
i .e. checks, issued by the state when it is short of cash. The warrants
are backed up by the state's promise to redeem them at a later date and
with interest. This is a device used only in dire circumstances, and
carries with it a lot of negative political mileage for the
administration forced to do so. In addition, the state's credit rating
would certainly be lowered, thereby raising the cost of borrowing.
California had not registered warrants since the depths of The Great
Depression in the thirties.]
We identified 34 entities that accounted for a third of the
covered employees in the state, including the Bank of America computer
service center that handled the payroll for about ten thousand
different employers around the state. We identified the person in each
one of those entities that was personally responsible for implementing
withholding if it was enacted. And we assigned one person in our
department to each one of those persons — on a one to one basis — and we
kept those people informed as the bill went through. We sent them
everything we could, and whenever something happened, we'd get on the
horn and tell them, hex, this is what's going.
At the last minute, in the last week, on Monday, they added a
tax bracket — changed all the tables. It would have taken us three
normal working days to implement that change. We learned about it at
•four o'clock and we stayed up all night re-jigger ing the tables so that
they would be ready to go to print the next day. The next day, the
committee dropped back to the original brackets. We'd stayed up all
night tor nothing. The other side of" the coin was that i 4 we hadn't
stayed up and the additional bracket had been left in, we'd been in the
soup getting the booklets printed.
Nor r i s ; Oh, dear. I hope you hadn't thrown out the earl ier
workshee t s .
Hutf ; No, it was all in 'camera-ready' form, so there was no
problem. The basic problem was that we were running out of time. It was
already December and if enacted, all employers in the state would be
mandated to implement withholding on their employees as of January 1,
and it was our job to get the information to them as quickly as
possible so that: 1. they could implement in as timely fashion as
possible; 2. the state would start benefiting from the much needed
cash-flow; and, 3. so that the FTB and I wouldn't be the 'goat'. On
Wednesday night we reached the point of no return. We had everything
ready, but the bill still had not passed. We had it all ready, and it
was actually sitting on the presses — the presses were ready to roll.
And if we waited any longer, in terms of these booklets, we couldn't
get them out in time. Time had run out.
I went to the nearest pay phone, put a dime in the machine,
took a deep breath, and dialed the printing plant, and said, "Turn on
the presses and let them roll." <The deep breath was because if
anything went wrong, if the bill didn't pass, I could be held
personally liable!) The next morning the assembly passed the bill, and
they sent it over to the senate just before lunch. The senate had just
recessed. The president pro tern had just announced that the legislators
could QO to lunch. (They had been waiting around all morning for the
bill to come over from the assembly.) As soon as he got the word the
bill was on its way, the pro tern sent the sergean t-at-arms out to pull
everyone back. I called my shop — I have to stop here.
We had these booklets coming off the press. The first bundles
we had hand delivered by car to all of our district offices in the
state—about 13 district offices. But everybody who delivered was also
a trainer. So we sent these trainers out to the district offices, and
then as they worked their way back to Sacramento they stopped and
trained the district staffs in the new procedures. The booklets and the
whole operation was under embargo until the bill was actually passed by
the legislature. We also shipped an embargoed bundle of the bookets
back to Washington so they could get a head start on implementation.
Ok ay ^ we're back to the" sen ate. I called, and I said, don't
anybody go to lunch. The 34 'entity messengers' were on
alert — stand-by. I sat up in the gallery, and they had gotten all the
senators back, and they called the roll. And when the clerk started
ripping the tally sheet off, and turned around — he had to face up to
the pro tern, who was on a higher level — and he announced the vote in a
sot to voice to the pro tern, so that the pro tern could then announce it
to the body, I took off 1 ike a shot because that was i t ! I scooted up
out of the gallery to Alan Post's office [legislative analyst] which
was just down the hall. Previously, I'd gone down and told his
secretary that at some point I may want to come in and use the phone,
and not ask permission or anything. And I did, I just went chunking in
there, and I made my phone-call, and I said, "Go!".
This was just be -fore lunch. By one o'clock everyone of those
thirty-four people responsible -for implementing withholding -for their
employers had a copy of the booklet in their hands. The private
sec tor --by one o' clock. By that afternoon the booklets were going into
the mail, by the next morning, Thursday morning, all o-f them were in
the mail - over four hundred thousand 48 page booklets. The bill hadn't
even been signed. It was a complex bill —
Nor r i s : Who in the governor's office were you coordinating--
Huf f ; That's a whole story too. I'm working with the governor's
staff; the bill had to go through engrossing, enrolling [a proofing
process] and all that kind of business. The governor wasn't even in the
state! He was in New York receiving a sports award.
The 'feder ales'' would not officially do anything until they
had a copy of the chaptered bill. They would settle for a facsimile
sent over the telephone lines. This was in the early days of the
machines that you could transmit [telecopiers] — there weren't very many
of them around, but they had one in the governor's Washington office.
It was a small machine [about 9"xl4"x4"]. We, also, had the three hour
time difference to deal with.
Nor r i s ; The person in Washington.
Huff ; In Washington. In Sacramento, we then arranged with the
governor's office for us to have access to their machine, so we could
transmit from our end.
Morr i s ; In the middle of the night?
Huf f ; After hours. Okay. We arranged to meet the governor in Los
Angeles at the airport to sign the bill. He walked off the breezeway,
and we had tables set up, press, and everything, and he signed the
Morr i s ; Are you there?
Huf f ; I'm there. I made an inadvertent mistake — I didn't realize
what I was doing. There's an LA Times newspaper photo with me right
behind the governor. The authors of tL~ bill, Gonzales, and everybody
surrounded--. When they printed the picture the legislators got cropped
out, and I was still there, [laughs] That was bad. I didn't realize
what was going on.
But it's not law when the governor signs it. Not very many
people understand that the governor's signing does not enact a bill
into law. It has to be 'chaptered'. Chaptering is done by the secretary
of state. The secretary of state is geared--when alerted properly — to
chapter a bill any day of the week, twenty-four hours a day. They have
somebody assigned to open up the office, enter the bill , and assign it
the next sequential number, called a chapter and that's what makes it
law, that act. <The chapter number and the legislative session in which
it was passed represent the permanent source reference to that law,
even after it is incorporated into one of the codes.)
All right, a little aside. The treasurer was this gal [Ivy
Baker Priest, then treasurer of Califonia and formerly treasurer of the
U.S. under Eisenhower], who was making a big fuss — here we'd done all
this, you know, we'd moved the whole establ ishment, gone through two
computer upgrades, printed all this stuff, all without any written
authorization, and she was making a big fuss about spending nine
hundred dollars for ads in the New York papers for some bonds in
connection with the whole business (for cash management t > . And she
wouldn't do it, because it wasn't law xe t .
To this day — I think she may have died — she still--
Morr i s; This is the California treasurer, or the US —
Huf f : Yes, treasurer of California. To this day, she doesn't
understand that she was snookered, because she actually authorized the
ads after the governor signed it, but before it was chaptered. It
still wasn't law. [laughs] So that's just a vignette.
Morr i s ; That's a marvelous tale.
Huff : We got it chaptered at six o'clock, at night --we had to fly
back here and get it chaptered. Then we transmitted a copy of the
chaptered bill, in the middle of the night, to the governor's staffer
in Washington at his home. CThe staffer had carried the machine home so
that he wouldn't have to hang around the office for an indeterminate
time.) At nine o'clock the next day, the staffer walked it over to US
Treasury, and delivered it. But those people really had already-
started, because we'd been back, negotiated the agreement, and sh i ped
them the booklets in advance. They were really roll ing, but they
couldn't officially do it until they received the copy of the chaptered
Actually those booklets were in everybody's hands before it
was law. We got some complaints on how they got the booklet so fast.
But other than that, everybody just took it all for granted. It just
The Legacies of Roger Kent and Don Bradley
Morris: Why don't we end up with a 1 ittle piece about what the
1 egac i es have been of Don Bradley and Roger Kent. What of their ideas
are still useful, and might be helpful to people now thinking of
becoming active in politics, either as pro or volunteer?
Huff ; Don's greatest contribution, actually, was finding people and
developing them, in terms of the p i ck-and-shove 1 staff type people. The
list is legion of people that he brought on and trained. That process
isn't happening, as far as I know.
Morr i s ; Is there still an executive director of the central
c omm i 1 1 e e ?
Huff : I couldn't even tell you.
Nor r i s ; There was one letter I came across, by a man named Jack
Tomlinson. Is he one of Don's proteges?
Huff: He's one of them, sure. He was, also, very close to Don on a
personal basis. Jack is an attorney, and handled legal matters for both
Don and Roger .
Another one of them is the chairman of the Political Science
Department at UC Davis.
Morr i s- : Cos t an t i n i ?
Huff ; Ed Costantini.
Morr i s ; He was a staff -per son?
Huff ; He was one of the bright young boys.
Dick Day, became a judge [Sonoma County Municipal Judge], and
now he's back to practising law. Jerry Brown appointed him and then he
1 ost the e 1 ec t i on ,
Bernard Teitelbaum is now a high -pa id lobbyist. A oun -for
hire. I'm sure he operates by his own set of standards, but as an
outside observer, I -Find it hard to see what principles he goes by.
From a remark he made, I gather his wi-fe [Rita Gordon] acts as a break
on the acceptance of some clients. Un -fortunately, I tend to divide the
lobbysists into the ' black hats' and the -'white hats''. This is not
completely -fair. A lot o-f them wear ''grey hats''! Specifically, in
•fairness to Bernard, he does have a so-ft heart. He was the top
contributor in helping Don's grandson [John B. G. Bradley, age 10, a
member o-f the San Francisco Boys Chorus] attend the Great Woods music
camp this summer in Massachusetts with the Pittsburgh Symphony. I can
safely say, that young John wouldn't have made it to camp without
Bernard' s help.
Jim Keene was the publ ic relations flack and media man. He
was a key staffer for Don during campaign times.
Chuck Bos ley was a staffer that wound up in Washington and
has served as an aide to a number of Congressmen.
Louise Ringwalt was Roger's secretary for years. Her version
of Roger's signature was accepted as authentic. When Roger actually
signed a letter himself, everyone thought it was forged! Louise ended
up in Washington for a number of years, retiring to San Clemente from
Alan Cranston's staff.
Of course, Van Dempsey was unique. He represented the
continuity. The others came as young guys, right out of graduate
school. Whatever attracted them was more transitory, and then they
would move on to something else.
Mor-r i s : Did they walk in the door, and say, hey, I'd like to work on
this year ' s gu be r n a t or i a 1 c amp a i gn ?
Huff : They'd come anyway you could think about. Somethimes they'd
just be working somewhere on a campaign, and somebody would find them,
you know. That was part of it, was being able to recognize, and pick
somebody up, and put them to work. But Van was part of the on -go ing
con t i nu i ty .
Morr i s ; Older than Don?
Huff ; No, he wasn't older, he was younger than Don. He was my
v i n tage .
Morr i s ; You mentioned last time that Man came out of the labor
un i ons .
Huff: Yes, UAW [United Auto Workers].
Nor r i s ; Were other people who came in, were working contacts —
Huf f ; We 1 1 , from time to time, but Van was unique. And part of his
uniqueness, of course, was that he had his own independent income,
which few knew, but he wasn't dependent during the hard, hungry times.
He didn't have to scurry off someplace, and earn some bread.
That was Don's — to me — that, plus his pol itical sagacity, and
ability to put campaigns together, and the whole thing.
Morr i s : Did he and Roger usually think alike on an issue, or did
Huf f : They were like that [fingers held together]. They could
disagree, and they could argue, but they didn't clash. I can't even
think of a specific major disagreement. I'm sure there were, but that
just wasn't one of my problems. Its just a strange kind of team
situation, with invisible bonds, and things just kind of went together.
Hard to explain it. It was kind of a unique phenomenon.
Morr- i s ; We 1 1 , it sounds 1 ike it was very productive, and very
sat i sf y ing, wh i 1 e it was go i ng on .
Huff : Yes. Roger 1 tfiink we've pretty well covered what his
contribution was — but he was a unique leader. Everybody loved him, I
think, literally loved the man. He had a lot o-f strange personal
characteristics, which partly made him lovable too, I guess. We called
him the Glorious Leader, G.L. Have you heard that one?
Morr i s : No I haven't. That's 1 o v e 1 y .
Huff : G.L. And he named me G.T., I was the Glorious Treasurer. We
were the only two Gs , G.L. and G.T. But he was Glorious Leader to
everybody--! was just G.T. to him. That wasn't a general thing, that
was just private between the two o-f us. Al tho I have never smoked
(except the second-hand stuff from 'smoke-filled rooms'!!) somewhere I
have a cigarette lighter given to me by Roger inscribed with the
I was one of those who spoke at Roger's memorial service.
Those remarks sum up how I feel about Roger and his contribution to the
democratic process, [copy of remarks attached].
C1 os i no Though ts
Huff: Another little incident: I sort of got a reputation of being
a resource person, I guess, is the best way to describe it. Somehow or
other, whenever they needed something, I was able to come up with the
appropriate document — in the trunk of the car, or something. I don't
know how it all happened, but I would have the bill , or a copy of the
Constitution, or the code, or whatever was needed. Have you heard of
Bill Or rick ?
M o r r i s. : Y e s .
Huf f ; Okay. William H. Orr i ck — W.H.O. Another side story there, was
. wi th--are you fami 1 i ar wi th Mar bury v Madison? Back in--
Morr i s ; I recognize it as one of the landmark decisions. I can't tell
you what i t says .
Huf i ; Okay. That had to do, basically, with the outgoing President
[John Adams] and the Secretary of State [James Madison], and
nominations, and whether the nomination of an outgoing president--!
can't give it to you in great precision — it got into a dispute as to
whether this gu> . Madison was Secretary of State, and Mar bury was the
nominee, and Madison refused to deliver the commission, but Adams was
already, technically, no longer president. Something like that.
William H. Or rick's nomination [to federal district court]
was, I believe, Nixon's last official act. Or rick was a Democrat. How
would Richard Nixon be appointing a Democrat as a judge? There was an
unwritten rule in California, because we had two Democratic
senators—Cranston and Tunney. This meant that you had to have an
arrangement, or things wouldn't run too smoothly. So the ar ran omen t ,
with the Nixon White House, was that every third judge in California
was suggested for nomination by Alan Cranston.
Morr i s; Not Cranston together with Tunney?
Huff : Well, theoretically with Tunney, but Cranston was the senior
senator. At that point in time, Or rick was it. And Or rick's name had
been processed, he had been nominated by Nixon, and he took the oath in
the middle of the night, because the nomination was made the day of
So they swore him in in the middle of the night to avoid the
Mar bury v Madison situation. And then — -few really knew about the actual
swear i ng~ i n--bu t a week later they had a public, pro -forma swearing-in
Morr i s ; How did we get over onto that?
Hu_ff : Oh, because o-f this—this goes back to the ''60 campaign.
Or rick was one o-f the big advisers, and he always used to call me --he
has a very -funny voice, and very loud, and a sound sense of humor — and
he always used to call me a "student o-f the Election Code", something
1 ike that. Right in the middle o-f the campaign, and I'm sure Stevenson
had no notion of any of this, one of his people showed up with an
attache case full of cash, from labor. And he was bringing it out here
to be -'laundered', and he wanted to carry it back Cas being from
Cal i f or n i a 3 . [ 1 aughs]
Morr i s ; How does Orr i ck fit in to it?
Huff : Orrick had a lot to say about this particular incident, as
did I, since I was the treasurer. He was one of those in on the
decision as to how to respond. It was an agonizing thing, to see all
that cash. Because the offer was, we were to get a piece of the action,
i n —
Morr i s ! For your doing the laundry?
Hut f ; Yes, just a "handling charge", and this kind of business.
We 11, this rather h i gh level messenger , who shal 1 rema i n
nameless, is carrying all this cash in his attache case. Stevenson is
in town, and there was a big rally down at Washingon Square on Columbus
Avenue — you • now, where the big Cathol ic Church is located.
Morr i s : Right.
Huff The plaza was just jammed with thousands and thousands of
people. We'd already refused the request and sent the messenger-
packing. We thought he went to the airport, and back to Chicago. We
left 212 Sutter, and went down to see Stevenson, and here's this guy
wandering around with the attache case full of cold cash, in this
crowd, you know.
Morr i s ; I remember going to that rally. It was a very sizable--.
Huf f ; That's the closest I ever came to seeing anything of an
unsavory nature in my pol itical career.
Morr i s ; Really. With all the reports one hears how unethical...
Huff ; Yes.
Morr i s ; They kept them away from you, or you think they're not as
common as advertised?
Huff : A 1 ittle of both. I had to deal with a few bums, but that was
just the usual, a big political pressure operation. The small minority
papers that insisted on our placing large ads in their 'rags'. But it
was nothing illegal, or anything like that.
Nor r i s : Fascinating. Well, thank you very much. I've absorbed as much
as I can today. I think we —
Huff ; I'm glad I got to tell my withholding story. I don't tell it
very coherently because it's got so many facets to it, and I didn't
tell the whole story. But it was a very exciting thing.
Morr i s : I can believe it. It's a really major operation, to create it
and carry it ou t .
Huf f ; It was a 'military operation', it really was. I didn't get to
talk about the time we did Nixon's taxes. That was another one. I only
held two press conferences in sixteen years: one on Nixon's taxes, and
one when I announced my prospective resignation after Governor Jerry
Brown allowed AB 939 to become law without his signature [-fall 19 79],
[laughs] But on Nixon's taxes we literally met — there were only -four of
us [FTBers] who knew what was going on, because there were all kinds of
leaks back in Washington with the IRS, and I was determined we weren't
going to have any leaks in our case. We met at airports — Sacramento, LA
and Oakland — with Nixon's tax attorney negotiating for him. And we had
to get a waiver, signed by Richard and Pat Nixon, to make all of this
public when the assessment notices were finally issued, because of the
law on confidentiality and the desire of both parties to have
everything on top of the table. I still remember sitting in the LA
airport looking at the signed waiver, and they hadn't included all the
years that they wanted covered for public release.
This attorney was not a political type at all. He was a tax
attorney, and it was very difficult for him to 'climb the mountain'
into the White House to get the right people to get anything done. When
we said, "Hey, the waiver doesn't cover it all," he was just shattered,
because he knew what he had to do. So he went back, and he had to get
those two signatures, again, to do it right. And he did, but when we
met again, he said, "I've got a story to tell you." He said, "You won't
believe it, but when I tried to call my contact at the White House, I
didn't get through to him. Then he called back, and I wasn't there, and
the two secretaries were talking to each other. My secretary was
explaining to that counsel's secretary, in the White House, what the
problem was. And the secretary back there said, when it got down to the
date, 'Do we date this back to the other date?'." C laughs] [One of the
Watergate 'incidents' involved the backdating of a document with
Nixon's signature that was duly notarized by a California notary
public. The then Secretary of State Jerry Brown used that event to
'shoehorn' himself into the Watergate affair in order to develop some
publicity f or himself.]
Other vignettes missed include:
-My sitting in for Roger Kent on Cap Weinberger's publ ic tv
panel and debating the 1960 Democratic reappor t i onmen t act with a
Republ ican assemblyman and the Re publ ican national comm i t teeman from
Cal i f or n i a ;
-My appearance before the House [U.S. House of
Representatives] judiciary sub-committee on the Willis multi state
tax at i on bill;
-The Hale Champion [Governor Pat Brown's Director of Finance]
kidnapping and my relation to it;
-An early meeting on the concept of revenue sharing where I
sa.t in Governor Pat Brown's place in a Chicago session with Michigan
Governor Romney and Missouri Governor Hearns;
-My George Wallace [Governor of Alabama] incident at the 1966
Conference of Governors;
-My participation on the floor of the State Assembly in the
first committee of the whole meeting since adoption of the State Water
Plan (subject: income tax withholding: time: early in the first Reagan
-My luncheon i n Wash i n g t on , DC w i t h Mu r r ay Ch o t i n e r , Nix on ' s
I e v i 1 genius'.
-The U.S. -U.K. treaty battle in the U. S. Senate where the
FTB ultimately defeated the efforts of the British House of Commons,
three presidents (Nixon, Ford and Carter), the U. S. State Department,
the U. S. Treasury Department, both Cal i forn i a I J . S. Senators, and
Governor Jerry Brown;
-The interview in my office with a British Member of
Parliament and the chairman o-f the UK Board of Inland Revenue;
-The ''ghost voting' scandal with respect to AB 939 (1979
General Session) and Governor Jerry Brown allowing the bill to become
law without his signature, resulting in my calling a press conference
to resign as executive officer;
-My interesting consulting assignments: with the government
of Mexico; in opposition to the State of Montana; for the New York
State Legislature; and, as an expert witness in court on behalf of the
State of Texas; and,
-My four year role in supporting Chief Justice Rose El izabeth
Bird, including two and a half years as treasurer of her campaign
c omm i 1 1 e e .
I wouldn't trade my political and governmental experiences
for anything, but in the years I have remaining, my hope is to be
involved in new and different types of activities. If my first seven
years in 'retirement' are any indication, that hope will be fulfilled.
TAPE GUIDE — Martin Huff
Date of Interview: April 2, 1986
tape 1, side A
tape 1, side B
tape 2, side A
tape 2, side B
Date of Interview: April 23, 1986
tape 3, side A
tape 3, side B
tape 4, side A
tape 4, side B
tape 5, side A
tape 6, side B
HE WHO AUDITS CAMPAIGXS RISKS HIS JOB .
Tax collector Huff —
politicians' enemy No.l
By CAROLYN STREET
If you took a poll of legislators these days, the executive
officer of the state Franchise Tax Board, Martin Huff,
would win the title of "politicians' enemy number one" hands
down. No one has ever questioned Huff's honesty, integ
rity, efficiency or administrative ability'. Yet, the Legisla
ture came extremely close to putting him out of a job at the
end of this year's session, and he is under fire from Governor
Brown and State Controller Ken Cory, among others.
Ever since Cory assumed office as state controller, he has
been maneuvering to remove Huff, and the reasons are not
entirely clear. The Franchise Tax Board, which administers
the personal and corporate income taxes, consists of the
controller, the state director of finance and the head of the
state's other major tax-collection agency, the Board of
Equalization. Technically, the three-member board estab
lishes policies for Huff to follow, but in reality Huff has made
almost all the decisions on how tax returns should be han
dled since he took office 14 years ago.
Huff, then the elected auditor-controller for the city of
Oakland, was appointed to his present job in 1963 by former
Governor Edmund G. (Pat) Brown. Huff was virtually given
the job for life because the law states that he can be removed
only by a two-thirds vote of the state Senate. The purpose of
that law is simple — to keep the collection of the income
taxes out of politics.
The causes of conflict
For many years, the members of the Franchise Tax Board
met annually for a quick, formal meeting as required by law
and left things in Huffs hands the rest of the time. But there
are some major new factors that have ended the era of non-
involvement, and one of them is the presence on the board of
two men who don't like to delegate power: Cory and William
M. Bennett, chairman of the Board of Equalization. Other
• The income tax. For many years, the personal in
come tax was a relatively small element of the state revenue
system. But inflation and the progressive nature of the levy
have boosted it to the point where one of these days it will
surpass the sales tax as the state's top revenue producer. In
the current fiscal year, it is estimated that the income tax
take will be $4.3 billion.
• Huff's bureaucratic personality and jfo-by-t he-
book attitude. Over the years, Huff has not made it a point
to curry favor among legislators. He has remained aloof
from politics, although he had been active in the Democratic
Party prior to his appointment. As a tax collector, he doesn't
bend the rules. "I've been accused of being rigid," he says.
Carolyn Street wrote about the unitary tax in the Sep
tember issue of the Journal.
"I feel I'm flexible within the law, but I don't bend the law.
People don't like that. They want you to be flexible, and that
means look-the-other-way if the law infringes on them . . .
When it comes to business, I don't have any friends." Huff
has also been scrupulous about keeping tax records confi
dential. (Despite this, there was a leak 'from his agency sev
eral years ago that resulted in newspaper stories revealing
that Ronald Reagan had not paid any income tax in one
• I'ulitiral reform. Under the Political Reform Act of
1974, Huff has the responsibility for auditing campaign con
tribution reports. He has taken the job seriously and has
attempted to audit every filing. This has angered legis
lators, who feel he is overzealous and anxious to embarrass
them. This factor, perhaps more than any other, is respon
sible for the legislative campaign to remove him. And since
Cory has many friends in the Legislature, it is probably also
grating on him.
• Kspense accounts. Legislators receive $35 a day in
expense money during sessions. Huff has called for audits to
This cartoon is credited with turning the Brown Administration
around on the advisability of removing Martin Huff from office.
'Really, Mr. Huff, we're not going to chop off
vour head: mavha vour arm or a hand:
'What I resent is being treated like any other
determine how much of this per-diem income should be
taxed by the state. The Legislature passed a bill this year
making clear that these funds cannot be taxed.
• The unitary tax. Huff is a prime advocate of the
so-called unitary system of taxation (See "Brown's quick
switch" in last month's Journal) and was responsible for the
Governor opposing a United States-Great Britain treaty
eliminating that form of corporate taxation. That was before
Brown went to Japan seeking industrial development. Upon
his return, Brown did a turnabout on the unitary tax and
accused Huff of supplying him with "flaky data." Late last
month, Brown retracted his prior stand before Congress
and said the cost of the treaty to California would be far less
than the $125 million estimated by Huff.
• The Nixon case. Bennett became upset with Huff
because the executive officer refused to engage in a wide-
open investigation of possible state income tax violations by
Richard Nixon during the Watergate scandal.
Strong enemies, few friends
In short, by merely doing his job and scrupulously trying
to maximize state tax collections, Huff has made powerful
enemies and few friends. About his only major public defen
der has been state Senator Nicholas C. Petris of Oakland, a
tax specialist and an old friend from Oakland. Petris claims
he has never heard anyone charge Huff with anything signi
ficant. He says there are forces in the Legislature who want
to drop Huff "because of his stand on the per diem problem."
Cory, Petris adds, has been "plotting and planning to get rid
of Martin Huff for some time."
Petris, among others, is convinced that Cory obtained a
commitment at one point from the Governor to go along with
a plan that would have the effect of firing Huff. Under this
scheme, the Franchise Tax Board would send Huff on a slow
boat to China or almost anywhere else he wanted to go out
side of California to study tax collection. Meanwhile his job
would be filled by a temporary executive officer beholden to
Bennett, Cory and the Governor. (Brown has a vote on the
board through the Director of Finance, who serves at the
will of the Governor.) Bennett claims this plan fell apart
when the Sacramento Bee published a cartoon by Dennis
Renault showing the politicians (Brown and Cory) clobber
ing the honest public servant (Huff) because he wasn't doing
their bidding. Brown may have decided at that point that
dumping Huff wouldn't be such a wise move after all.
Petris has been telling anyone who would listen that it
would be stupid politics to fire Huff because the media
would make Huff the hero and make legislators look like
sleazy, money-grubbing politicians. Bennett said the firing
of Huff would be comparable to Nixon's firing of Archibald
Cox as Watergate special prosecutor, but Bennett is given
One reason why the Huff puzzle is difficult to unravel is
that those who want him fired often agree with him on
specific issues. Cory, for example, has been one of Huffs
allies on the unitary-tax question. Bennett wanted the
board to take more power and blasted Huff on the Nixon
issue but he has defended him to the hilt when others have
tried to fire him. The Governor, who turned sour on Huff's
unitary-tax stand, is one of the few politicians who supports
his audits of campaign reports.
It is probably the campaign-contribution audits that have
produced the most difficulty for Huff. The Legislature went
so far as to put in this year's state budget a provision limit
ing the amount of audits the Franchise Tax Board could
undertake. Brown vetoed that language from the budget,
and Legislative Counsel Bion Gregory offered an opinion
that Brown's act was unconstitutional because the Governor
is restricted to reducing or eliminating appropriations. In a
bizarre legal step, Cory on September 27th voted as a
member of the Franchise Tax Board to institute action
against himself as controller, so that the conflict between
Brown and the Legislature on this point could be adjudi
Cory, as controller, had been asked by the Legislature to
withhold funds for the full audits. During the dispute, Sen
ate Democratic leader David Roberti charged that Huffs
political-reform division had become "a political police force,
for which Huff should be censured." Huff subsequently
raised the issue of expense-account taxation. That, Huff
said, "was like pouring gasoline on a fire."
Where the power lies
Cory has made it clear that he wants Huff's power taken
back by the board. "At the heart of what's going on here."
Cory told Huff, "is that it's your function to serve the board,
not ours to serve you." Huff responds that he realizes his
power is delegated. "We're trying to do our job . . . What
authority they delegate, I have. And that's what I have
problems with. A group of people cannot manage anything,
they can only set broad policy. There's no battle here; it's a
one-way attack. All we do is serve the board, and they send
out confused, conflicting messages."
One of the problems is that the board has delegated so
much authority for so long that it is a practical impossibility
to take it back. Furthermore, the law requires that all meet
ings with Huff on personnel matters must be held in public.
And that has turned out to be an important weapon for Huff.
When Cory goes on the attack, Huff asks for specific com
plaints. Cory has thus far complained primarily of relatively
minor matters. At one meeting, Cory accused Huff of chill
ing a study of Franchise Tax Board operations by the au
ditor general, a study requested by Assemblyman Willie
Brown, head of the Lower House revenue and taxation
committee. The controller said Huff's staff was making it
difficult for the auditor general's staff to get information,
but by that time Huff said he had solved all the problems.
Huff said later that "the charges seemed like small things
blown way out of proportion, as if he were looking for some
thing ... He should have complained in a timely manner,
instead of storing them up like a little kid." He added that it
was difficult to get feedback "in an atmosphere of pure hos
The man who often gets put in the middle is the deputy
director of finance, Sid McCausland, who usually represents
Finance Director Roy Bell (and thus the Governor) on the
panel. McCausland claims Huff rarely asks the board for
"advice and consent" on agency activities. Huff won't give
board members information on tax returns without written
justification, and overall security at the agency is very
tight, according to McCausland. Assemblyman Brown said
he requested the audit because he couldn't get information
he wanted on corporate taxation. Governor Brown accused
Huff of having unitary-tax information locked up in a "black
Last February, Bennett joined with Cory to chip away at
Huff's authority — over the opposition of Bell and McCaus
land. The board reclaimed the right to appoint top staff
members and to examine tax returns, but McCausland
claims this has united staff members behind Huff. "They
knowtheir boss is a tyrant," says McCausland, "but they
also knc . he's consistent and won't pull the rug out from
under any one of them."
The Brown Administration went over to the other side
when Brown started a heavy love affair with the business
community. Huff has been at war with corporate America
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THOMAS H MOEBER PuOlisffr
for many years, fighting for every tax dollar he can possibly
corral. He established field offices in Chicago and New York
to go after lost taxes from the Fortune magazine top-500
businesses. The auditor general has estimated that the state
has collected $17.50 in taxes for every dollar spent on these
field offices. (Huff says the figure is conservative.) Huff is
recognized as the national leader in the advocacy of the uni
tary tax, which the Governor now opposes and multi
national corporations have long detested.
Cory's ill-fated attack
Brown's disaffection with Huff on the unitary tax gave
Huff's other enemies the courage to act. Cory tried to engi
neer the "get-Huff move on the board and was surprised
when it failed. He appealed to Huffs harshest critic up to
that time, Bennett, and came up empty-handed. Bennett, as
a consumer advocate, has been at war with the business
community even longer than Huff. "Brown is going to give
your head to Cory on a platter," Bennett recalls he told
Huff, "but I'm going to try to save you." Huff says of Ben
nett: "I understand where Bennett's coming from. He likes
publicity. That's how he functions . . . But when it comes
down to the nitty-gritty, he's in the right corner."
Failing with Bennett, Cory expected a vote from Brown's
finance director. According to McCausland, Cory thought
he had the Administration's backing for a plan to send Huff
on a long-term trip. Cory later gave McCausland "strong
vibes that he thought he had a commitment from the Admin
istration, a commitment he thought had been broken." Was
there a commitment, and if so was it broken because of the
Renault cartoon? In any event, Bennett and McCausland
left Cory out on a limb. And Huff's job was secure — at least
for another few days.
Legislators then became involved in a variety of moves
designed to curb Huffs authority or remove him. Willie
Brown was a key figure. He claims Huff plays too large an
"adversarial role" in government, and he feels Huff is unco
operative in providing the Legislature with unbiased fig
ures on bills when Huffs position differs from Brown's. The
anti-Huff proposal at one point was inserted into a measure
providing an exemption from unitary taxation for the
Arabian-American Oil Company. Primarily through Petris'
efforts, Huff was saved again.
During the debate, it became clear that legislators were
primarily upset about the detailed auditing done by Huffs
crew on campaign reports. Ironically, Huff had tried to re
sist the placement of the auditing function in his agency,
because he knew it would cause him a great deal of trouble.
But it was given to the Franchise Tax Board anyhow. Petris
feels that anyone given that function would have been a
loser, "because he has to deal with 120 prima donnas, not
counting all the other prima donnas out there who want to
The chance of survival
Can Huff survive, and, if so, for how long? Huff says he
would have left a year ago if he had seen the series of politi
cal tornadoes coming. Huff claims he doesn't worry about
what's happening. "I can look at it as a detached observer
and wonder at all this foolishness. I do the best I can. I sleep
well at night."
The fight over Martin Huff is far from over. The Legisla
ture obtained a new weapon on the last day of the session
when Assemblyman Dan Boatwright received an opinion
from the legislative counsel that the two-thirds Senate vote
required to remove Huff may not be constitutional. Strip
ped of that special protection, how long can a tax collector
hold out against the might of the state's political establish
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
MARTIN HUFF has been executive
officer of the California Stare Franchise
Tax Board, which has responsibility for
collecting state rexes, since 1963. ho has
also been a port-rime faculty member or
the School of Business ond Public Admin
istration of California State Universiry in
Sacramento. He formerly served as
audiror-comptrcller for the city of
Ediror s Mere This & foe sevenrh ir> o senes of 1 5
o/ncles exploring Cciiforrna rax issu«. Ir. this amcle.
Mccn Hjff executive officer of the California Store
Fronct-.ise Tax. Ooartf, to faorures of a sound
peTcnot iocorn;? rex iaw. uses rN?iTi to ^Aji'jOte
Colifor-io's pfeseri' sysi»?T> oirJ suggesrs spc-dfic
irrpro-^vr>p.-,rs Th,s series is co-sporwxed tov Coursf",
by N<?v.-5p3OCT a pfo.ecr of Unive-ity ts.'enyvc .
Un^•c^i^/ cf CC;.?CT.IO, Son Oego. and me California
Tax rvfcrm Ajv.x-'C-'on Pourooron It 15 furdcd by
rhe CoiifsfOJO Cw-incil for rh<? H-.-ncntnes m Pbbrc
California's Persona! Income Tax
Law is confusing, difficuir ro admin
ister, and unfair.
In parr, this results from the
state's policy of selective, bur sub
stantial, conformity ro the U.S.
Internal Revenue Code. Like rhe
federal code, state law has become
a porchwork of exclusions, deduc
tions, exemptions, credits, and
What can we do to reform our
srare law? idealty, we should forsake
rhe federal mode!, scrap cur present
low and design a new one. fseolisrtc-
ally, we are limited re wording
within rhe framework of existing lew,
to make if simpler and more equit
The first step is ro ouriine rhe key
fearures of a sound law.
• Ir should be understandable in
concept end operation.
• Ir should be as simple as
economic realiries will permit.
• Revisions should be measured
ogoinsr overall fairness, rax-
payer understanding and
relative ease of administration.
• Where there is a conflict
between fairness ro a particular
sector and overall fairness, the?
totter should prevail.
The second step is to set forth
some fundamenral tenors.
• There is c need for progressrvity,
i.e., o scole of increasing mar-
girol rax rotes as income
increases ("obility ro pay' ').
• Income Is income. This sro?e-
menf of the obvious strikes or
one of the most airicol defects
in the present system, i.e., rhe
notion rhar some kinds of
income should be excluded
from the tax base.
• Those advocating loopholes
(preferences) should be re-
quired ro support rheir cose with
objective factual information.
The third srep is ro dispe! two
myths. One myth is that blind con
formity to federal exclusions, deduc
tions, ond exemptions is desirable. In
reality, conformity con mean
inequity. The dollar benefits of
special tax breaks are distributed
unevenly among taxpayers. The
result is that a disproportionate share
of the tax burden is shifted to
middle- income taxpayers.
Fur;hermore, conformity usually
means complexity. The greater the
number of special provision:, th3
more difficult it becomes for rcx-
pay?rs to understand ond comply
with roe iow and for administrators
to ioierprei and enforce if.
The second myth is thar store tax
law con be used to bolster the
economy or change society. It is true
rhar federal tax low. with its high
rar<?s, may o'fecr taxpayers' econo
mic df* it.iorv. Rut ColitO'nio s
perscrxjl income tax rates of 1 to 11
psrcenr ere too low to induce rax-
poyers ro alter their choices. When
taxpayers' atrions are motivated by
federal law, s:m;lar stare provisions
reword those actions with windfall
Taking these factors into consi
deration, there ore six reforms that
would rndse tfv? present low both
simpler and more equitable.
First, eliminate preferential treat
ment of copitoi gains. The capital
gains provisions contribute the most
*o the complexiV of our ?ox laws.
fhoy ax- cko unfair: they favor
i^veitme.-r over labor. The person
wi*h investment income can exclude
as much as 50 per cent of rhe gain
from tax. The person with only salary
income, however, is taxed on every
dollar earned The amount of tax
should be a function of ability to
pay, which is based on the amount
of income, nor its source.
Second, include ttonsfer pay
ments in taxable income, excluding
that portion previously taxed to the
recipient. The "obility to pay" of a
person with a $20,000 income, parr
of which is from unemployment
insurance, welfare or social security, is
the same as that of a person with
$20,000 income entirely from
Third, eliminate deductions and
credits for homeownership, rental,
and other normal personal expendi
tures. Activ;rier) subsidized through
special deductions ond credirs range
from homeownership ro the pur
chase of solar energy devices. All
moy be desirable from an economic
or social standpoint but state per
sonal income rax low is not a good
tool for economic or social engineer
ing. Its purpose should be to gene-
rare revenue for needed services.
Taxable income should be reduced
only by the cost of producing
income or ihe costs of uncontrol
lable, catastrophic events which dras
tically reduce ability to pay.
Fourth, substitute tax credits for
deductions. Deductions favor high
income taxpayers, whereas credirs
benefit taxpayers equally.
Fifth, liberalize the income
averaging provisions. We extract a
higher rax from persons whose
income fluctuates greatly from year
to year. This inequity should be
And finally, increase rhe breadih
and number of rax brackets. If
special tax breaks are eliminared,
needed revenues can be generated
at lower rates Taxpayers would nor
move so rapidly into higher tax
Adoption of rhe above sugges
tions would result in a more under
standable and more equirable Cali
fornia Persona! Income Tax Law.
1M- vie-vs evresv.'-d dc not necessr-'V reject Those
; I** ~,iember$ c' >•>> ixx t1 -c w >-cf -\v hi. •ft
Copyrigh- * 1976 by the Regents of The
University of California.
The views e*pre:v?d «• this Xf cs ore thos? of
the author; only and do "of r*~:es?or:ly nepxeyx:' *e
vie..-, of ftie sponsoring or funOing ogenaei & ci n-<-
Next Veek Perry Shapiro docu-sif. the effccn cf
inflation on CoWomio s thfee mojor taxes: property.
lotes. ond income.
6 June 1906 - 16 May 1980
Roger Kent had class - in a very special way, but he was as comfortable as an
old shoe. His class was marked by his style, his courage, and his leadership.
The old shoe mark was evidenced by many things - by the bulging, dog-eared wallet
he carried while a pile of new ones languished in the bureau at home; by the old
Plymouth he loved to bounce around in; by the outdated Tux with the crumpled top
hat that he WOIE gloriously to Pat Brown's first Inaugural Ball; and the most con
stant symbol of all - that battered old satchel that went with him whenever he
The first time 1 met that satchel was almost the last time. We were all scramb
ling out of the airporter upon arrival at the Coronado Hotel for a Democratic
State Central Executive Committee meeting. I was traveling light with one small
bag, so offered to help Roger with his gear. I found later that he seldom let
anyone else carry that particular piece of luggage and I soon discovered why.
When we reached the hotel desk, in juggling bags, the satchel slipped and hit the
floor with a clinky thud. The drop was only a few inches, but Roger was on top
of it in an instant with a look of total consternation on his face. I apologized,
but was a little bewildered by all the fuss. I'll tell you this. If his precious
bottled goods had been smashed, I wouldn't be standing here today.
When I was considerably younger, my standard for 'old age* was measured by those
who continually talked of the 'good old days'. Well I guess I know how to classi
fy myself, now, because the fifties and early sixties in Northern California Demo
cratic politics were indeed the GOOD OLD DAYS - or as Libby so eloquently put it
in her article on Roger - the Golden Age of Democratic Politics in California.
The Roger Kent style and motivation can all be summed up in a simple, but very
hard hitting six word statement that was put into the mouth of an Arabian the
other night in the TV drama "Death of a Princess". When queried by the reporter
as to why the Princess had broken out of her customs and traditions in the face
of a life style that provided every possible creature comfort, he replied, "She
wanted 'to be rather than to have'". I think that is a very apt characterization
of what Roger stood for and his philosophy of life.
Roger and Libby and Don were the nucleus of one of the great political families
of all time. There was a special ambience to it all. By some sort of conscious
and natural selection, a group of people devoted to making our political system
work were brought together. Those who stayed all seemed to share a commonality
of interest with respect to the issues of the times. For this reason, very little
energy had to be devoted to arguing the issues within the group. Those who stayed
were by and large primarily devoted to the political process against a liberal
philosophical set. Single issue 'types' didn't survive long in that milieu.
It can all be summed up in one phrase: Our Glorious Leader and the 212 Gang.
While the old 212 Headquarters has been long gone, and while Roger is newly
gone in body, they are both with us today and will be for all time.
May 22, 1980
INDEX — Martin Huff*
Aerojet General Co., 55
Agriculture and Services Agency, 7
politics in, 11. 13-14, 25-26, 32,
Institutions Commission, 16-17
Allen, John. 25
judicial, 13. 47-48. 59. 60-62
Arnold. Stan, 24
automobile emission controls,
ballot measures, initiative, 42-43
Bank of America, 56
Bay Conservation and Development
Commission (BCDC) , 12
Betts, Bert, 38
Bird, Rose, 48. 64
Bjorr.son, Anga, 13
Black, Hugo, 3-4
Bosley, Chuck. 60
Bradley. Don. 10, 28. 30. 37, 50,
Bradley, John B. G. , 60
Bradley, Tom, 40
Brown. Edmund G. f Jr. (Jerry), 13,
47-48, 60. 63. 64
Brown, Edmund G. , Sr. (Pat), 1, 9,
14-15, 24, 26. 28-29, 34, 46-47,
cabinet, governor's, 7-8. 52-53
California Democratic Council. 1,
29-31, 36. 41
California Republican Assembly. 30-
campaign finance, 22-23, 27, 34-35,
campaign management, 38-39. 41
Carpenter, Paul B. , 33
Chamber of Commerce. 2
Champion, Hale, 1, 8-15, 46, 83.
Christopher. George. 2
civil service, 45-46
Clark, William P., 53
Coke, Earl J. . 7-8
Collier, Randolph, 11
computers, 55. 56
Congress, U.S., 12, 25
constitution, 2, 8, 24, 42-43, 45,
Copertini, Cyr Mullens. 12-13, 40
Costantini. Ed, 59
Cranston. Alan. 30. 31. 36, 43-44.
crossfiling. 24, 32
Crown, Bob, 13
Day, Dick, 59
Democratic National Convention, 1960,
California delegation, 14-15, 28-
Democratic party. Democrats, 7, 19,
30. 40-42. 47
*Unless otherwise noted, government entities and locations refer to
Democratic State Central Committee.
1. 20. 27-29. 31, 36, 47
field work, 6-7, 25
young turks, 11, 21
finances, 22-23, 27
Dempsey, Betty, 6
Dempsey, Van, 6-7, 23. 25, 36, 41,
Deukmejian, George, 40, 51
Dieden, Leonard, 48
Dodge plant, San Leandro, 4-5
Doerr, Dave, 54-55
elections, special, 7, 24
1946. 20. 32
1948. 19-20, 42
1954, 25. 30
1958, 7. 11. 13. 25-26, 38-40
1960. 13-15, 27-29, 34-35. 62
1964. 10. 36-37
Employment, Department of, 55-56
Engle, CLair, 32, 36-37
Engle, Lu, 32
Equalization. Board of. 32-33. 44-
ethics, 2. 7-9. 35, 46. 62, 64
Gatov. Elizabeth, 23, 28
General Services. Department of, 8,
Gonsalves, Joe A., 58
governor, office of (Edmund G.
Brown, Sr. ) , 1
governor- office of (Ronald Reagan),
8-9, 58-59. Ill
Governor's Conference, 1966, 1, 9
Graves, Richard, 25-26
Hall, Kenneth F. , 52
Harris, Joseph, 42
Holmdahl, John, 13-14. 21
Houlihan, John, 2, 16
Huff. Anne. 6. 18. 19, 25. 29. 36.
Huff sons, 3, 4, 5, 13, 26-27
Humphrey, Hubert, 1, 15
Independent Progressive Party (IPP),
inflation, 1970s, 43
initiative measures, 42-43
Internal Revenue Service, U.S., 63
Jarvis-Gann tax limitation
initiative (Prop. 13, 1978), 43
Johnson, Ross, 43
judges, appointment of, 13, 48, 59,
Fazio, Vic, 10
federal government, 56, 57, 59, 61-
Fifteenth Assembly District, 11, 26
Finance, Department of, 8, 54
Franchise Tax Board, 7-8, 12, 43,
44, 46, 63, 64
and income tax withholding, 54-59
Franchise Tax Commissioner, 45-46
Keene, Jim, 61
Kefauver, Estes, 14-15
Kennedy. John F. , 13-15, 28-29, 34
Kennedy, Robert, 34
Kent, Roger, 23, 28. 33, 36, 37,
47. 50. 60-61
Knight Goodwin, 8
Knowland, Joseph, 16-17
Knox, John T. , 9
labor unions, 6-7, 19, 20, 60
legislature, legislation, 10-12,
A3, 46. 47, 52, 54. 56-57, 63
staff. 10. 35
politics and, 13, 23-24, 33-34
Life magazine, 1, 4
Lincoln, Luther (Abe), 11, 26
lobbying, lobbyists. 12, 25, 34, 60
loyalty oath, 6
Lynch, John, 44
Malone, Bill, 12
McAteer, Eugene, 12
McCarthy, John, 53, 54
McColgan, Charles J. , 45-46
media, 1. 4. 14-15, 16. 35. 58. 62
merchant marine, 18-19
Mesple, Frank, 12
Miller, George, Jr.. 10-11, 24. 30,
Miller. George, III, 41
Miller, George P. . 25
Morse, Wayne, 29-30
Mulford, Don, 53
Munnell, William. 23
Murphy, George, 40
Nevins, Dick, 31
Nixon, Pat. 63
Nixon, Richard M. , 10. 34, 61. 62.
auditor-controller, 13, 16-17, 21
city council, 5. 21-22
mayor, 2, 5, 16, 21
See also Alameda County
O'Brien, Larry, 14
Odegard, Peter, 6
O'Gara, Gerald, 15
one man- one vote, 24
Orr, Verne, 51
Orrick. William H. . 61-62
Osborne. Bob, 21
0' Sullivan. Virgil, 24
patronage, 35, 43
Pearson, Osborne A. , 14, 20
Peterson Tractor Co. , 4-5
Petris, Nick, 9-13, 21. 26
polls, political, 39-40
Priest, Ivy Baker, 58-59
public administration, 22
Public Works, Department of, 9
Purchio, John J. , 48
Rattigan, Joe, 24
Reagan, Ronald, 38, 77-78
as governor, 2, 7, 47, 53-54, 58
as president, 50. 51
Reed. Dana, 9
Reilly, George, 45
Reinhardt, Stephen, 32
Republican party i Republicans, 8>
21, 25. 30. 40, 43. 54, 61,
Rice, George. 13
Ringwalt, Louise, 60
Rishell, Clifford, 21
Rogers, Will, Jr.. 20
Roosevelt, Eleanor, 28
Rothenberg. Martin, 21
Sacramento State University, 5-6
Salinger, Pierre, 10, 37
San Francisco, politics in, 12
Secret Service, 13
senate, California, 24-25
secretary of state, office of, 58
single- is sue politics, 41-43, 83
Sloss, Nancy, 31
Smith, Gordon Paul, 52-53
Smith, Joe, 5
Snyder, Liz, 24, 29
Stevenson, Adlai, 15, 28, 30, 62,
Stiern, Walter. 11
Strathman, Earl. 17
Sullivan. Ray. 35
supreme court, 48
tax reform, property. 9, 24-25, 43
tax withholding, 51-59. 62, 63
taxation, taxes, 43, 45-46, 51, 54,
Teale. Stephen, 24
Teitelbaum, Bernard. 60
Tobriner. Matt, 48
Toll Bridge Authority, 8-9
Tomlinson. Jack, 59
treasurer, office of, 58
Tribune, Oakland, 16
Tripp. Pete, 21
Truman, Harry, 20
Tunney, John, 61
United Auto Workers, 7
University of California, Berkeley,
Unruh, Jesse M. , 14, 23, 33-34
volunteers, in politics, 31, 35,
36, 38. 40
voters, voting, 34-35, 39-41
Warren, Charles, 48
Warschaw, Carmen, 33
Weinberger, Caspar, 46, 51
Whitecotton, Dr. , 17
Williams, Bob, 8
women, and politics, 29, 36
World War II, experiences during,
Graduate of Connecticut College, New London,
in economics; independent study in
journalism and creative writing; additional
study at Trinity College and Stanford University.
Historian, U.S. Air Force, documenting Berlin
Air Lift, other post-World War II issues.
Public relations and advertising for retail
and theater organizations in Connecticut.
Research, writing, policy development on
Bay Area community issues for University of
California, Bay Area Council of Social Planning,
Berkeley Unified School District, and others.
Interviewer-editor, Regional Oral History
Office, The Bancroft Library, 1970-
Emphasis on local community and social history;
and state government history documentation
focused on selected administrative, legislative,
and political issues in the gubernatorial
administrations of Earl Warren, Goodwin Knight,
Edmund G. Brown, Sr., and Ronald Reagan.
1980- , director, Reagan Gubernatorial